Requiem for a Dream (Magill's Literary Annual 1979)
Hubert Selby’s latest novel clearly marks him as a considerable force in contemporary American letters. Although Sara Goldfarb, one of the three main characters in Requiem for a Dream, definitely resembles Ada of Selby’s Last Exit for Brooklyn, and although this novel is set among the same desperate streets of New York, Selby’s new work brings his art to a plane of universality that places the bizarre and sensationalistic aspects of the earlier novel’s subject and language in the category of ingenious curiosities. Requiem for a Dream achieves its impact through a simple elegance of double plot and such convincing characterization that the reader is compelled to discover his or her own terrifying destiny in the fates of Selby’s characters. We are drawn into the horrifying degradation of these characters because the dreams they begin with are our dreams, the dreams of a society whose primary apparent value is fame measured in exposure or security measured in money.
Sara Goldfarb, around whose solitary diminution one of the two plots revolves, is Philip Roth’s Mrs. Portnoy without benefit of offspring to victimize (since Harry no longer lives with her) nor husband to emasculate (Seymour is long dead). Harry rarely comes to visit her because, she thinks, he’s too busy running some fancy kind of export business. This leaves Sara with her refrigerator and her television as companions in her solitude. But they are not bad...
(The entire section is 1808 words.)
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Bibliography (Magill's Literary Annual 1979)
Booklist. LXXV, November 1, 1978, p. 461.
Kirkus Reviews. XLVI, August 1, 1978, p. 831.
Library Journal. CIII, October 15, 1978, p. 2136.
Newsweek. XCII, September 25, 1978, p. 101.
Publisher’s Weekly. CCXIV, July 31, 1978, p. 91.
(The entire section is 24 words.)