Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Downers and outcasts

 
The following review appeared on the Teen Page of Chennai Chronicle a few years ago.It's not exactly a movie review. It's the review of a book that was made into a movie several years after the book was first published. I was deeply affected by the book and with some luck, I found an opportunity to express my pathos on a public forum. Here is the review in its entirety:

There are authors who write to please you. And there are those who seem to indulge in their art for the pure rush of making you feel simultaneous bursts of agony and catharsis with every word they pen. Hubert Selby Jr happens to fall in the latter category. Hailing from a working class background, surrounded by the unmentionables of New York's underbelly, the author has honed his craft by dissecting the nature of human pain with his raw, profound and shattering take on life at the edge of what the world considers 'civilization'. Last Exit to Brooklyn was his debut novel, a work that is so riddled with anger, intensity and pathos – things that wouldn't seem too alien to a generation born almost 50 years since it was first written. 

The novel is presented in a style resembling a portmanteau film, comprising individual episodes that may at first appear unconnected. The four main protagonists never meet each other but they all live in the same industrial housing colony-like set-up on the Brooklyn waterfront. Sailors, gangsters, junkies, lowlives, hustlers and a set of characters that are a far cry from the American dream, populate this city. Selby's writing is a bravura bit of literary craftsmanship, which employs street slang and normal dialogues to altogether eliminate the 'he said' and 'she replies' that have been the cornerstones of formal English writing.
  
The result of such a technique is the rapid-fire progression of the novel from point A to B to Z. The speed at which the dialogues ricochet from one character to the other leaves the reader almost breathless. But beware, this is writing at its most angst ridden, you will be shocked by its bare-knuckle brutality and its unforgiving look at those who haven't quite made it in life. But then, given an option, would they even care to rescue themselves from a hellhole, the construct of which was defined by them in the first place?








No comments:

Post a Comment