Originally Posted by the modern myth
You can get his first four novels (his only four, I think) as a collected set called the 'Bandini Quartet'. Each book follows the same character, Arturo Bandini, through his adolescent life into adult hood. He is a self righteous prick of a charcater, really hypocrotical and naive, yet full of himself. He's such a great character - imagine Henry Chinaski with Catholic guilt and an angry Italian family. I read an anecdote where a drunkern Bukowski was throwing bottles into the road, yelling "I am Arturo Bandini!" He's a great anti-hero.
Check out Celine, as well. It's heavy going but Bukowski really raved about him; he romantically reminisced about a week spent beneath the covers, drinking port and eating crackers, reading Celine's "Journey to the end of the Night". It was an obvious influence on his writing - brutally honest and misanthropic.
Sounds awesome! Thanks a lot for the recommendations!