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Tales of Ordinary Madness Paperback – January 1, 2001
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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.
The famous symbolist painter, Odilon Redon once said that dead flowers are just as beautiful as those in full bloom. Bukowski would agree. His characters have seen better days; in fact their best days are well behind them. Or, to paraphrase one of his characters, once you think you've hit bottom, another bottom rises up to hit you. And yet, there is a substantial nobility, a worthiness--I'm struggling for the right word--about these down-and-out characters. For the most part, you like them. Watching a felon, on the night he is about to stick up a liquor store, conversing with his little daughter, is downright poignant. (If you can't tell, "A .45 To Pay The Rent" is among my favorites.)
I'm stretching here a bit, but reading this reminded me of Jacob Riis' "How the Other Half Lives". While I am a working class guy, these stories revealed to me a world that I could never have imagined, nor survived in. The only difference between this and Riis' classic, is that this is autobiographical fiction. But the feeling is still there. These wretches have pride and assert their needs and identities.
These are not stories for the squeamish. So do not go lightly into "Tales of Ordinary Madness". But these stories are not shocking for shock's sake. They are shocking because they are real.
In the movie "Barfly" (screenplay written by Bukowski), "Hank" (Bukowski's fictional alter ego) was invited by a beautiful lady to live in her mansion, where he could live and write in peace. Hank declined, saying "Look around you, you're in a cage with golden bars."
This collection of stories further illustrates the beauty and honor of living in the mud.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
There are, I think, 33 stories here. Most are fair to decent, honestly. But about five are really outstanding. Read morePublished 27 days ago by SG
Bukowski is one of my literary heroes, not everybody would agree with me though. I purchased it for my permanent collection so I can re-read it a million times if I want to, he's... Read morePublished 6 months ago by Abbie
What can you say about Bukowski except he's absolutely amazing. Good readPublished 7 months ago by Kayleigh Childs
One of my favorite books! It's not for the faint of heart. Bukowski is hilarious and insightful. This book is a collection of short stories that show how funny and nutty Bukowski... Read morePublished 7 months ago by Big Montanna
Bukowski is not always great, but when he is great he is a giant, a god among men, a writer of such insight and intelligence, inspiration and genius. Read morePublished 9 months ago by P. Doherty
This was the first collection of Bukowski short stories I've read. I find it interesting enough to read through in a couple of days, but it does get repetitive with most of the... Read morePublished 10 months ago by Mark
When I picked out this book of stories, musings, rants, and general carrying-ons of this mad poet, I instantly became turned on to the Bukowski beast. Let me explain. Read morePublished 10 months ago by Zephan
Bought this as a little gift for my girlfriend...needless to say, she loved it!Published 10 months ago by Jessica