Book Review #65


Every now and then a book will come along that will move you in ways that are indescribable, uplifting you to the zenith of joy or dropping you into the pits of emotional hell. `Requiem’ takes you to hell, slowly descending the steps as you feel life and hope and love failing, falling away from you like strips of rotting flesh.

In Darren Aronofsky’s forward (Director of the movie) he mentions that the hero of this story is Addiction, and the more you read, the more you grasp the truth of these words. This really isn’t a story of Sara or Harry or Marion or Tyrone, but about Addiction and how it changes their lives forever, triumphing over the good that they once held in their hearts.

Sara Goldfarb, a lonely widow, receives a phone call telling her that she has one a chance to be a contestant on a television show. With television already her constant companion, Sara becomes extremely excited and vows to loose weight so that she can fit into her red dress for the show. But loneliness and diets don’t work well together, so Sara goes to a doctor and gets diet pills.

Sara’s son Harry is a junkie, and when he and his friend Tyrone Love come across some `dyn-o-mite’ heroin, they hatch plans to score a pound of pure, dreaming that this will be their ticket to the easier life they long for. Harry’s girlfriend Marion is a wanna-be artist who is waiting for life to happen to her, and she believes she has found what she had been seeking with Harry.

Their addictions grow, eating alive everything important to our four characters, their dreams, their hopes, their love, their friendships, their health, and their souls. This is the story of a savage beast running rampant through their lives, devouring humanity without regard or regret.

What really impacted me the most was the horrors Sara and Harry suffer at the hands of medical professionals, under the brutal pretexts of pride, profit, ignorance, routine, efficiency, and prejudice. The disregard for these human lives by the doctors who run the institutions and judge the behavior over the illness is gut-wrenching in its heartlessness. The inhuman cruelty of these doctorate-carrying monsters exceeds anything their own monsters created.

Selby’s prose is difficult to get into at first, unique in that it is a meandering and strewn-together style not often seen or read. Everything flows together, thoughts and spoken words, with minimal punctuation and entirely without quotation marks to indicate spoken text. Stick with it, as the story begins to unfold you will find the style lending itself to the surreal and dreamlike flow of the character’s lives, and as you slide into their hopes and dreams, their cravings and failures, Selby’s style becomes less and less an obstruction and more of an enhancement to the nightmare he has painted so well for us.

If you liked the movie, you will like the book, and if you like the book you will like the movie. Also of note is the stupendously dark score to the movie by The Kronos Quartet, bring audio impact to the downward spiral so artistically illustrated in `Requiem For A Dream’. Great forwards by Selby, Richard Price, and Darren Aronofsky. Enjoy!