Requiem for a Dream by Hubert Selby Jr. (Book Review)

Requiem for a DreamRequiem for a Dream by Hubert Selby Jr.

My rating: 1 of 5 stars

Bookshelves: abandoned, addiction, cult-classic, current-social-issues, dnf, everyone-loved-it-but-me, literary-fiction, literature-with-a-capital-l, too-highbrow-for-my-peabrain, grittiest-reality, the-movie-was-better, ugh

I guess it’s the difference between artists who make art for everyone and those who make art for other artists.

“Im not too swave when Im ripped. ” oh, come on, you know i understand the purpose of style and how it/s okay to break the rules if you know the rules but sometimes things just get carried too far. Yeah baby you know like purposely misspelling words like suave and using slash marks instead of apostrophes, sheeeit, and what the hell is up with writing almost an entire damn book in a single paragraph let alone you ever heard of a comma dude? I hear ya jim, don/t wind up daid after just a tase of that shit.

Like that.

I tried, and failed, to read A Brief History of Seven Killings and House of Leaves, both of which were rife with this stream-of-consciousness rambling. I guess it’s just not for me. Maybe it’s lowbrow, but I’m a fan of white space when I read. And yes, I do get the premise of messing with the rules of writing to convey a state of mind or a cultural setting, or to create atmosphere. I get that. But going on and on and on with endless sentences and 3-page-long paragraphs, no apostrophes or commas, no differentiation between narration and character dialogue, phonetic spelling and ghetto/drug slang, for ~300 pages, making an already bleak story even more difficult to read, isn’t accomplishing anything. Storytelling is a two-fold process: the teller tells, and the listener/viewer/reader comprehends. (I’m not a fan of audio books, but it occurs to me that with the right narrator, that could be the way to go with this book.) You’re not telling a story if people can’t understand it. Style is one thing; pretentiousness is another. Rifling through my library copy to see if the entire book looked just like the first 37 tortuous pages (it does) I found two slips of paper, likely bookmarks, indicating other people didn’t make it much farther than I did.

This is the second book I’ve tried to read and abandoned after watching the stellar movie upon which it was based. The other was Larry McMurtry’s Terms of Endearment, very rare as I’m generally not a chick-flick chick. I loved loved loved that movie, and cried cried cried. Tried to read the book, which was endless rambling about I-can’t-even-remember -what now. Terrible. (However, another of McMurtry’s efforts, Lonesome Dove, deserved the Pulitzer it won, and could have been script and storyboard for its movie, which I’ve watched so many times I pretty much have it memorized.)

Anyway. The story itself is well worth it, but in this case stick with the movie, which was stunning.

It did make me think of June Jordan’s His Own Where, which was breathtaking and is due for a reread, I do believe.


Author: Deborah Lee

I like trees, dreaming, magic, books, paper, floating, dreaming, rhinos, rocks, stargazing, wine, dragonflies, trains, and silence to hear the world breathe.

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