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Charles Bukowski – Tales of Ordinary MadnessTales of Ordinary Madness is a collection, one of many, of Charles Bukowski's short stories. This is classic Bukowski, consisting of a range of stories spanning the basic factotum style of some of his books, through embellished and re-worked episodes to completely fictional efforts which, at most, were inspired by something which happened to him.

The majority of the stories here are clearly autobiographical in outlook (and mostly in content, too, I guess). Sometimes he uses his real name, sometimes his alter ego Hank Chinaski, which he used in his novel 'Post Office', besides a number of other publications. Nearly everything is written in 1st person, although in a variety of styles and approaches.

The stories clearly span a wide range of times in his life, running form 'down & out' times, to drudgery in menial and temporary jobs, to his 'successful' stage, something which leaves him rather bemused at times. The stories are not ordered in chronological order, it's all happily mixed, and one finds stories of life on the street, in the madhouse, and at readings and poetry retreats rubbing shoulders.

The writing style is frequently clipped, with short, terse sentences or fragments, and sometimes unusual punctuation. Some comes across as stream of consciousness writing, other parts look more like his poetry, formatted to looks like prose, and has a similar power, too. I personally preferred the bits where his life is 'more together', so to say, mainly because his writing is different and, er, more together, too.

One story stands out from the rest in clearly being fictitious (in contrast to the diary/factotum approach, with or without embellishments). It concerns going mad, death, the end of the world, and the race that will replace humanity. It would not be out of place in any good SF anthology, although would fit best in one of Ellen Datlow's 'Alien Sex' ones I think...

Title: Tales of Ordinary Madness
Author: Charles Bukowski
Reviewer: Markus
Reviewer URL:
Publisher:  Virgin Books
Publisher URL:
Publication Date: 2009 (reprint), 1967 original
Review Date: 091103
ISBN: 9780753513873
Price: UKP 8.99
Format: Paperback
Topic: Short stories    
Topic: SF?

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