Dan's Reviews > Tales of Ordinary Madness

Tales of Ordinary Madness by Charles Bukowski
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Jun 23, 09

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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message 1: by Alex (new) - added it

Alex Tillisch why does there have to be a lesson?

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