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24
4.2 out of 5 stars
Tales of Ordinary Madness
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39 of 40 people found the following review helpful
on 20 October 2005
I have read (as far as I know) all of Bukowski's stuff. I love a few of the poems but a lot of them drift over me. It is with the stories that he has won me over. All the novels (especially Post Office and Ham on Rye) are wonderful, but his writing is best suited to short stories (and I would say the novels Factotum and Women, great as they are, are basically a novelised series of short stories...) The best collections of short stories are The Most Beautiful Woman In Town and this one, with this one the more consistent. There are examples of the short story in this book that I firmly believe could not be bettered, enough to make you put the book down for a minute, just to think about what you've read, and just marvel at the sheer word-economical perfection, and how his incredible turn of phrase can sum up inner thoughts and philosophies with a paucity of words. As long as you're not easily offended, there is plenty here to blow you away.
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40 of 42 people found the following review helpful
on 3 October 2000
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.
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
on 3 March 1999
I recently loaned this book to my girlfriend. I haven't gotten a review from her yet, but if she likes it, I just may marry her. This is the best of all of Bukowski's great works. The words are so powerful and prophetic they have driven me to drink on several occasions. This book illustrates Bukowski in his best medium, the short story. A .45 To Pay the Rent is beautiful, and Animal Crackers in my Soup blew me away. READ THIS BOOK!
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on 11 April 2015
I lost this book when I was about 50 pages from the end. I think I might have left it in the gym - which is probably some sort of Bukowskian sin.

I'll read those last pages one day, but I knew from half way in that this was a five star book. I love Bukowski. I love his tales of ordinary madness. Though, of course, the madness isn't ordinary because Bukowski wasn't like most people.

He drinks his way through the book, offending the world around him, offending himself...it reads like a bewildered kid trying to figure out why he has suddenly been let out of a cupboard, and instead of the punch in the face he was expecting to receive, he instead gets applause from a world of strangers.

Some people don't like Bukowski, but part of his beauty is he doesn't want you to like him. He doesn't care about the reader. He wrote because without writing he might have simply been a monster. But his words made him a genius.

His honesty, in a literary world crammed with vampires in love and all sorts of bestselling ideas that get published and make me want to puke, is something I often revisit to remind myself why I love writing. He feels like, to me, the last of the old days.

If you don't get him, that's fine. But Bukowski has to be respected.

He's one of the all time very best.
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on 23 August 2013
There's a richness to old Hank's flirtations with insanity on the edges of skid row. Some of the short stories contained are the manic old man at his absolute best, some are so chaotic and dense that the true value will only be unearthed with multiple readings and others are written for magazines for money. He's a writer unlike any other, polarising sure but intense. He feels every word and doesn't just ponce around in the shallow waters of fashionable genres like so many writers who got/get fat and rich and lazy.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on 26 March 1998
Here is one of those wacky collection of stories from the master of the street-printed word.Described in explicit detail are the honest remarks of a man insistently wounded by life & himself but still manages to gulp that last pint of strength to get through another day.The common themes of drunkenness,women,sex,bad jobs,bad apartments & roominghouses,scathingly biting attacks at society equaled with moving ones of tenderness etc.(mirrors of his life)are blurted in stabbing narrtives of world weary wisdom that makes the downtrodden character seem better off than anyone else.And theres even a modern take on the supernatural in the last tale.The quality of Hank's writing in this is him at his peak,showing the work of a man inspired compared to the mellow superficial tones of boredom that dopminate his last works.Modern society has never really had a poet to really call it's own;& in this book,together with his best,Hank stakes claim to his throne.
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on 20 October 2013
A nice collection of stories between reality and fantasy. I really enjoyed some stories, while some one else bored me a bit.
The godo thing about Bukowski is that he's not lengthy - sometimes he's always too much concise.
A good book in the sum, 4 stars imho.
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on 28 July 2014
Pornographic, badly written by a carefree Bukowski. Elements were okay, but I couldn’t read it all because it was repetitive, filled with anger of the same kind throughout. This is nothing clever, unlike his other books Eg Women, Ham on Rye and Post Office
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on 2 March 2015
Brilliant writer! I would recommend Bukowski to any literature lover. Very dark in places, but exceptional nevertheless.
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on 9 May 2014
purchased as a present and he is very pleased with it arrived quickly and the packaging was perfect so all fine
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