I’ve read two books by Charles Bukowski.
“Tales of Ordinary Madness” is my third Bukowski book.
According to the back cover of the copy I bought from thriftbooks.com for $5.39 (plus $1.44 in tax and shipping), the stories in “Tales of Ordinary Madness” are taken from the volume “Erections, Ejaculations, Exhibitions and General Tales of Ordinary Madness” originally published in 1972. The stories not included in the “Tales” book are included in a sister book called “Beautiful Women in Town“.
“Tales” includes 34 short stories of ordinary madness. The humor is crude and coarse, sexual, misogynistic and patriarchal. I don’t know if ‘ordinary madness’ is the best title as the madness in this volume if not the typical slasher serial killer madness. Bukowski would define madness as working a job you hate and screwing a worthless women.
“Rape! Rape!” is a story of a man who becomes infatuated with a girl he sees across the street. Stalks her to her apartment building, knocks on several doors before finding her apartment and then rapes her, though the women seems to be enjoying the rape.
That would not fly in 2021 society.
It didn’t fly in the story either, as the Man was arrested and thrown in jail, but later bailed out by the girl he raped.
There are several stories about the despair and elation that comes from betting on the ponies, a story about fighting a Zen minister at a wedding, and a story hooking up with a literature professor’s wife while on the poetry reading circuit.
The story “Animal Crackers in My Soup” is the most erotic yet deals with societal hatred of those who are different.
The general theme of the volume is one of existential nihilism. That is, finding a meaning for life. “My Stay in the Poet’s Cottage” and “Love It or Leave It” wonder what the meaning of life is. Sometimes, I wonder the same.
I could not live like the characters in these stories. I tried after Nikki left. I tried to be the swinging bachelor, seducing girls each night of the week, drinking more beer than legally allowed.
But, it wasn’t working for me.
Although, I would like to write like Bukowski, free, coarse, maybe crude and sexual, nihilistic. occasionally repentant.
Here’s a great video on Charles Bukowski. This video was my first introduction to Bukowski and his philosophy of life. I started reading his novels and stories after watching this video.
Here’s a list of the stories in this volume:
- A .45 to Pay the Rent
- Doing Time with Public Enemy No. 1
- Scenes from the Big Time
- Nut Ward Just East of Hollywood
- Would You Suggest Writing as a Career?
- The Great Zen Wedding
- Cunt and Kant and a Happy Home
- Goodbye Watson
- Great Poets Die in Steaming Pots of Shit
- My Stay in the Poet’s Cottage
- The Stupid Christs
- Too Sensitive
- Rape! Rape!
- An Evil Town
- Love It or Leave It
- A Dollar and Twenty Cents
- No Stockings
- A quiet Conversation Piece
- Beer and Poets and Talk
- I shot a Man in Reno
- A Rain of Women
- Night Streets of Madness
- Purple as an Iris
- Eyes Like the Sky
- One for Walker Lowenfels
- Notes of a Potential Suicide
- Notes on the Pest
- A Bad Trip
- Animal Crackers in My Soup
- A Popular Man
- Flower Horse
- The Big Pot Game
- The Blanket