Chamblee54

Tales of Ordinary Madness

Posted in Book Reports, History, Library of Congress by chamblee54 on February 15, 2014

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PG sat in the workplace cafeteria and read the last line of Tales of Ordinary Madness. TOOM is a book of short stories and underground press columns, allegedly written by Charles Bukowski. This collection was published by City Lights Books, the facility of Lawrence Ferlinghetti. The poet-businessman was not admired by Mr. Bukowski.

The author was born Heinrich Karl Bukowski, on August 16, 1920, in Andernach, Rhineland-Palatinate, Germany. His Catholic parents moved to America in 1923. The name was americanized to Henry Charles Bukowski. Friends called him Hank, and his literary alter ego was Hank Chinaski. Somebody decided that Charles would look better in print.

Hank Chinaski was a hard boiled character, or so he would have you believe. He was not a teetotaler. In spite of his many excesses, Hank lived to be 74, when leukemia sent him to the likkastow in the sky. This was March 9, 1994. Eleven days later, Lewis Grizzard met his maker. Lewis was 47, the same age as Hank in much of TOOM.

You should always separate the creator from the creation. Enjoy the product, and don’t worry about the ingredients. That is the case with TOOM. The stories are reputed to be little autobiographies. (An Amazon one star commenter thinks the stories are the result of “some kind of posthumous ghost writer, and not a very good one.”)

Hank, if nothing else, was productive. He wrote thousands of poems. It is not known if they have all been published, or if anyone is drunk enough to read them. Here is a quote from a previous Chamblee54 feature, The On Time Charles Bukowski.

The writer/drunk had always been a bit of a fascination to PG. Out of the millions of useless drunks feeding the urinals of planet earth, at least one will turn out to have had literary merit… this leads to a newyorker piece about the gentleman. After nine paragraphs, and two poems, there is the phrase that set off PG…graphomaniacal fecundity. (spell check suggestion:nymphomaniac)

As best as we can figure, g.f. means that Hank wrote a lot of stuff. This is a good thing. PG operates on the notion that if you keep your quantity up, the quality will take care of itself. Hank seems to agree, spitting out product “like hot turds the morning after a good beer drunk.” He seemed to take pride in doing what Truman Capote said about Jack Kerouac…he doesn’t write, he types.

Holy drunken author synchronicity. Last summer, PG was working third shift in a midtown sweatshop. He would read a couple of stories of TOOM, then shift gears and read a bit of The Dharma Bums. At some point in the procedure, there was a collection of output from Truman Capote.
Hank Chinaski might not like PG. There is the rhyming poetry. There is buying a book of repackaged prose at a yard sale. There is the twenty five year retirement from alcohol use. This is beside the point. You have to live for what is important to you, not what a deceased barfly might think.

Pictures are from The Library of Congress.

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7 Responses

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  1. Roll Model Biscuit Model | Chamblee54 said, on April 18, 2014 at 6:18 am

    […] Many of the rules for living were taken from his short stories. PG recently stumbled through Tales of Ordinary Madness, and recognized a few. Hank would toss words of wisdom into stories about being arrested for […]

  2. […] Many of the rules for living were taken from his short stories. PG recently stumbled through Tales of Ordinary Madness, and recognized a few. Hank would toss words of wisdom into stories about being arrested. One time, […]

  3. […] order making it easier for people to vote ~ Undocumented Students ~ Roll Model Biscuit Model ~ Tales of Ordinary Madness ~ Georgia police officers are paid less, die at a higher rate than in most states ~ Knox County […]

  4. Page 123 | Chamblee54 said, on March 8, 2018 at 2:42 pm

    […] bastard) If he looks long enough, PG will find that rant about things Mr. Bukowski does not like. PG wrote about TOOM once. “Hank Chinaski might not like PG. There is the rhyming poetry. There is buying a book of […]

  5. Post Office: A Novel | Chamblee54 said, on September 15, 2018 at 2:27 pm

    […] the time. If only Hank could have combed that face. PG has written about Hank one, two, three, four, five, six, seven times, with some reruns thrown in for efficient blogging. PG has written two pomes […]

  6. […] Many of the rules for living were taken from his short stories. PG recently stumbled through Tales of Ordinary Madness, and recognized a few. Hank would toss words of wisdom into stories about being arrested. One time, […]

  7. […] to live for what is important to you, not what a deceased barfly might think. Pictures for the last part are from The Library of Congress. After publishing Hank Chinaski Lives on Tuesday, PG decided to […]


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