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julianmeynell

Julian Meynell's Books

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Waiting Period

Waiting Period - Hubert Selby Jr. A powerful novella that does not quite reach the heights of some of Selby's other works although I understand what he was trying to do. It is written in Selby's typical style, although the power of the prose does not reach the same heights as Last Exit to Brooklyn or Requiem for a Dream.

It is about an ordinary person driven to the brink of suicide by the injustices of society. In particular, the narrator is a veteran who has been poorly treated by the VA. Deciding to buy a gun to end his own life he decides instead to instead take revenge by murdering people for the crimes that they have perpetrated.

The books themes are really madness and morality. The extent to which the book's narrator is either sane or justified is left ambiguous and is part of the point of the book. In particular, when he murders a vigilante who killed a couple of black doctors for being black doctors, there is no awareness of what the differences are between the two people. The book is a brilliant exposition of a murderous mindset created by societal injustice. The narrators voice is interrupted by another God like voice that endorses the narrators actions and character.

Selby's novels tilt on the edge of madness as they explore the incredible psychological pressures put on people at the very bottom of society. There is something about this work, which feels as if the whole novel tilted right over the edge. Its a fascinating work and well worth reading, but Selby lost some control over it in the end. Having said this, I suspect that it may be the best thing written on the murderous impulses of people who are good people, but have been wronged and left helpless. But in the end it perhaps tilts into revenge fantasy a little too much and peters out into nothingness.