In TALES OF ORDINARY MADNESS Charles Bukowski does what very few can. He finds the poetry in real people who live miserable lives in miserable conditions, mostly by their own doing. There is very little to recommend in these characters. Like Bukowski, most of them are unemployed drunks, dirty old men, sexual degenerates, and morally stripped souls. They form a subculture that perpetuates and sustains itself as long as the liquor keeps flowing (and it does), the women keep giving (and they do ... and do), and the men continue indulging (and they do ... and do ... and do). And yet, the reader is transfixed. For better or worse (usually worse), the reader chooses to enter Bukowski's world, takes a perverse delight in the goings-on, lingers and tarries, knowing that he or she can escape from the pits of hell at will, revisiting when the urge strikes. Better yet, there is no hangover in the morning. TALES OF ORDINARY MADNESS is a collection of short stories, united by themes of desperation, loneliness, dead-end jobs, sexual perversion, and a need for real connection in an alienated, disturbed world. In these stories there is truly something of the profane and sacred, irreverent and holy, indifferent and feeling. The stories stay with one long after the reading is over. Bukowski's writing style is as nonconforming as his person. He doesn't always adhere to the rules of syntax, but this only serves to visibly, or tangibly, underscore the more abstract originality of the stories and situations themselves. Bukowski isn't for everyone. The writing is fierce, sexually explicit, unforgiving, and yet so totally true to the characters and their lives that it never seems overdone, affected, false. Through his words, Bukowski manages to transform the ordinary into something great.