Review: Tales Of Ordinary Madness by Charles Bukowski

At this rate I’m just getting Bukowski books based on how good the title is. Tales of Ordinary Madness is a better title than The Most Beautiful Woman In Town and Notes Of A Dirty Old Man. Most of these stories revolve around Charles Bukowski himself. From the sounds of it they were all written before he invented the character of Henry Chinaski, whose first appearance is perhaps Post Office.

Bukowski is, simply put, a hell of a writer, and this book along with The Most Beautiful Woman In Town are culled from the first collection of short stories Bukowski ever put out. I think before this he wasn’t as recognized for his short stories and it took Lawrence Ferlinghetti and City Lights Publishing to recognize his acumen. Perhaps there had been too much crap as Bukowski was refuted to have had to develop his craft over a long period of time and most likely over a great number of duds.

I have not personally historically liked Bukowski’s short stories from what I’ve read. The books that he wrote that were mixtures of poetry and short stories were nearly always a wash and the dedicated short story books simply never were as compelling as the bonafide novels (except Pulp). Bukowski here puts opinions literary and otherwise on display with as much freedom as he wants to and perhaps the biggest hat trick is that he actually makes one care. If this were the opinion of someone feckless it would get old damn quick, but that’s not all that’s here. There’s also humor, fantasies, and flights delerium. In fact some of these short stories rank amongst the best writing Bukoswki ever did.

Final Grade: A-

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