Requiem for a Dream
"If you read this, be careful" (Lou Reed)
Written in 1978, "Requiem for a Dream" is perhaps the best known novel by Humbert Selby Jr., together with "Last Exit to Brooklyn" (1964) and "The Room" (1971). It's the failed, shattered American-dream, it's a dizzying journey to an earthly hell, f
Written in 1978, "Requiem for a Dream" is perhaps the best known novel by Humbert Selby Jr., together with "Last Exit to Brooklyn" (1964) and "The Room" (1971). It's the failed, shattered American-dream, it's a dizzying journey to an earthly hell, from an initial carefreeness. In this dark modern-day Bronx fable the reader finds two parallel stories which rarely cross: those of Sara Goldfarb, a lonely widow who spends her days watching television and thinking about her happy past, and those of Harry Goldfarb (Sara's son), his best friend Tyron C. Love and his girlfriend Marion Silver, all three heroin addicts but full of dreams and projects about the future. Unexpected occurrences make the four characters apparently have the opportunity to realize their dreams: Sara receives a letter from the organizers of a television show, telling her that she is one of the people nominated to take part in the program, while Harry, Tyron and Marion suddenly find the way to easily earn a lot of money. Their project: get all the dope they want and open a cafeteria-gallery to organize exhibitions of emergent artists. Hence, it starts a race to do as much as possible to create the conditions to realize their aspirations, but everything degenerate making these four end up in an infernal vicious circle that will lead them to an irreversible ruin.
Although this book has been written about thirty-six years ago it sounds remarkably current, maybe because certain realities sadly remain unchanged over time: the urban enviroment, especially that of the most hapless districts of the large cities, has always had the same dangers and problems simultaneously to its interesting eccentricity and characters. But people always suffer in the same way, solitude still exists as still exist corruption, mafia, drugs, racism and injustice. "Requiem for a Dream" is not the usual typical novel about the use of heavy drugs and its consequences, it's something that goes far beyond, it's a denunciation but without judgment by the author's voice whose opinion keeps silent, it's the same story, the same illusion that innumerable common persons have lived, the same sorrow and the same craving. It's a journey and an experience which involve the reader in every sense, captured by Selby's blue streak which sometimes could seem a sort of contemporary stream of consciousness interpretation. Sometimes the dialogues (entirely written as such characters in the reality would speak, that is in Bronx-slang), the descriptions and the rhythm are so intense, that reader needs to stop for some minutes, breathe and then carry on.
"(...) The breeze was a little cool. It was gray here too. Nobody by the house. She walked down the street. Swaying. Wavering. Holding on to the wall. She reached the corner. Stopped. The traffic. Traffic! TRAFFIC!!! Cars. Trucks. Buses. People. Noise. Movements. Whirls. She was dizzy. She clung to the light post. Desperately. She couldnt move. The light turned green. She clung. Knuckles white. The light continued to click from green to yellow. To red. To green. Over and over. Many times. Many, many times. The people passed. Some looked. Shrugged. Continued. (...)"
A great novel, but for strong stomaches, an unmissable modern classic.