I think if I read this when I was much younger, I might have found it a bit rebellious and exciting. All the sex, drugs and… rock ‘n roll poetry. But I just found that one sexual encounter after another got a bit repetitive and sometimes boring. Yet there was something alluring about it also, and it dipped in and out of places that had a lot more depth than some old drunk fucking yet another notch on a bed post.
The protagonist, Henry Chinaski is a womanising drunk. I know I’m supposed be repelled by him, but he’s one of those enigmas; a character who is repulsive yet also possesses an odd magnetic charm. There’s a gritty honesty, an acerbic wit, and a couldn’t-give-a-fuck-what-anyone-else-thinks approach to life that I can’t help admiring and envying in people like this.
His attitude to women is also a bit of an enigma. I think it would be too easy to look at how Chinaski treats women, and dismiss him as a misogynist. And going by some reviews, many have. But that’s too black and white. How can you call someone a woman hater who also so clearly LOVES women emphatically. Good / bad. Black / white. Evil / goodness. It’s somewhere in that grey area that lie truly interesting characters. And I think that’s what makes Women an interesting read even if it did get quite repetitive in places.
As for the narrator. It was a perfect tone. This guy spends the whole book sounding hungover and grumpy. You can listen to a sample here.