Dan's Reviews > Tales of Ordinary Madness

Tales of Ordinary Madness by Charles Bukowski
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Jun 09, 2009

did not like it
Read in June, 2009

I'm at a total loss as to why this guy is popular amongst people my age. To be fair, this is the only book of his I've read, so maybe I'm missing something. But really, straight forward stories of life as a drunk, dirty, old man are not very interesting. They're often depressing, as would be expected, but there's no redeeming lesson or observation in most of it either. I could see the appeal to younger readers being first exposed to derision for the wealthy, skittish, management class and the flighty hippy class. The first time you run into an author re-inforcing the concept that you don't need to be what your teachers told you to be, it is notable. There is a bit to be said for detachment from fame, fortune, and society. However, it's all lost because the detachment is total. It's not to eschew these things in favor of something that matters more, but simply to drink and attempt to sleep with women he wants. He expresses appreciation for other writers, but never expresses joy or excitement in his own art. There is certainly shock value in his treatment of women, but it's again without point, and becomes downright horrible when he devotes an entire chapter to a fantasized rape. The fact that he is then hopelessly smitten with a daughter in some of the stories is even more bizzare. But even this remains depressing as his interactions are only about keeping her happy in the most immediate sense because his he doesn't know how to interact or relate and simply uses her as another way to hide from everything else, often including the mother.


It's a window into a hard world of doing things you despise to keep a roof over your head and full bottles or cans within arms reach. It's a collection of stories a man seizing every available chance to fail. His dream seems to be to simply be left alone to drink himself to death.

The story about the crazy animal lady was enjoyable, but by and large, this book was a total waste of time mitigated only by the fact that I now have experience with an author that is often referred to.

If you like to read stories of drunken old men and their adventures, pick up a Hunter Thompson book. Really, any of them will do. He's bitter, intoxicated a lot of the time, and irresponsible. But, he has fun, zeal for life in its best moments, a desire for people to be happy, and he loves to write.
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09/09/2016 marked as: read

Comments (showing 1-7 of 7) (7 new)

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message 1: by Alex (new) - added it

Alex Tillisch why does there have to be a lesson?


Barrie Mcallister Okay, so you've rated it one star, and then it has taken you the length of a short story just to say,"I've only read this one book by Charles Bukowski, and I disliked it!" That would have done, instead of your own short story whining about some author's book you didn't enjoy!


Axelle "To be fair, this is the only book of his I've read, so maybe I'm missing something."

You are.


Craig Stone It's his honesty Dan, I think. Bukowski bleeds onto the page. He's a throwback not to my youth - but to a time when publishing companies published books that challenged the reader. I'd rather read about the honest world of Bukowski, than the "everything is awesome" world of many of today's authors. I think, ultimately, Bukowski didn't care what anyone thought about his stories - and (for me) those books are the only books worth reading. Regardless of whether the reader likes, enjoys or agrees with the words. They are what they are. That's worthy. To me, anyway :)


Christ Opher "... but there's no redeeming lesson or observation in most of it either." Part of his point, I believe.

"It's a window into a hard world of doing things you despise to keep a roof over your head and full bottles or cans within arms reach." It's the world and life he knew. Part of his point is showing a place most will never go in its truest form. It's ugly, damned ugly, but it's honest. Bukowski isn't who you pick up if you want to feel better about the day.
"If you like to read stories of drunken old men and their adventures, pick up a Hunter Thompson book." You seem to have missed the point of Thompson's work as well.

Do yourself a favor, never pick up Last Exit to Brooklyn by Selby Jr.


Marvin Reininger I know! He could have just said he didn't have a cigarette like the malibu boys in The Big Pot Game!


message 7: by Marvin (last edited Oct 27, 2015 07:23PM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Marvin Reininger Axelle wrote: ""To be fair, this is the only book of his I've read, so maybe I'm missing something."

You are."


Yep. There is so much more to it than being a drunk and fucking women. Too bad that is all he can see from the book.


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