RARA-AVIS: Report to a DJ: Hubert Selby Jr.

From: Mario Taboada ( matrxtech@yahoo.com)
Date: 10 Jul 2002

On hearing of my tragicomical experience with a bad Algren novel, Mark DJ suggested that I dig up Hubert Selby Jr. I happened to have _Last Exit to Brooklyn_ right here in the library, so I brought it down and read it.

This one makes Algren's _A Walk on the Wild Side_ sound like a literary masterpiece. Selby has a story to tell, or rather several stories, but he wants to build it all on style and style alone. The result is so ludicrous that I had to stop for air every few minutes. This is not a case of complex but great writing, as in the work of Gaddis, Pynchon and Barthelme: Selby works without a suitable design and substitutes words, a lot of words, for thought. Evidently, this was thought to be cool in the sixties, like the Peanut Butter Conspiracy or The Electric Prunes.

I heartily recommend this dead piece of hardboiled fiction to those who think that Ellroy's latest is really bad. By comparison, it will seem quite passable.

What does the DJ recommend next? I have more Selby, somewhere, but I need a break from him. No, not Burroughs or Kerouac. Somebody like Henry James starts to sound attractive, though he ain't hardboiled. I'll even take Galsworthy recommendations.

Best regards,


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