Review from a Transgressive Fiction Fan
I came to Selby because I realized that I was interested in a genre called transgressive fiction, which I had not, until recently, even heard of. When I checked out the genre, in addition to many of my favorite books, I discovered that Selby was a leading writer. I then read Last Exit To Brooklyn and loved it, so I followed up with this book. It never occurred to me it would be as good. It turns out that Requiem For A Dream is the best book I have read written since the 1950’s.
The book is about addicts. Three of the main characters are heroin addicts and one is addicted to diet pills. But really it is through the vehicle of addiction that Selby rips apart the whole American Dream (the dream of the title) and tears up the illusions on which modern western society is based. He does it in a book of incredible power and honesty and it is a crime that this man never won a Nobel prize or Pulitzer. The book is simply too challenging, I think, to people’s basic beliefs and its critique is too accurate and true.
“Insightful” Review from a Mainstream Reader
I can honestly say this is the worst book I’ve ever read in my life. Since I’ve read thousands of books, that is quite an insult, and one that is deserved.
I cannot fathom what other people see in this book to give it a higher rating than a one star and, honestly, I feel that’s a bit high.
The plot: four people who are addicted to drugs and the ensuing chaos and horror their addiction brings.
The formatting of the book drove me insane. There aren’t paragraphs or punctuation and the slang was so heavy and overdone, it made parts of it illegible. If this is considered an art form, then my middle school students are all hugely gifted because none of them paragraph or punctuate either.