27 September 2010

Book Review: Last Exit to Brooklyn by Hubert Selby Jr.

Now, after reading this book, I realized that transgressive fiction is not for me. I read this book after borrowing it from my sister, and all I could think of is when this book would end.

So what is this book about?

This is a book that is divided into six parts, and basically, every part can be read independently. It deals with bizarre and weird characters, mostly stemming from the not so desirable sector of society. This book is about thugs, criminals, homosexual prostitutes, domestic violence, gang rape, and so on. Basically, I suppose Selby has taken the part of society that I am most distant from, and made a book out of it.

Now, I am not opposed to reading about the lives and activities of other sectors of society. However, they should have a point. There should have a purpose as to why I am reading this. However, this book didn't seem to have that. Every chapter didn't seem to have a plot: the chapter about Tralala for example is just about the life of a prostitute who takes money from drunk sailors and she gets gang-raped at the very end. The last chapter, Landsend, is just about the strange lives of the people who live in the public housing, known as projects. Is there a larger plot? Not really.

I was hoping that this was like Requiem for a Dream which is a story about drug addicts and their tragic and pathetic lives. I didn't read the novel, I just watched the movie, and when I learned that this is the same author who wrote that, I was a little excited, but reading this made me wonder what exactly is the point.

Is that what transgressive fiction is about? Is that all about shock value? I get the feeling that the main point of the author is just to shock me with the graphic and profane prose that this book used. While Requiem had a concrete story line, I couldn't see the story line in this book. For me, it was just a never-ending tirade of bad things.

So, would I recommend this one? No. Do I regret reading this one? Kinda, yes. I guess this would make me stay away from transgressive fiction for the time being. I read Naked Lunch by William S. Burroughs before, and that was weird. If all transgressive fiction was like this, then I probably would not read it.

1.5 out of 5 stars.

See my other book reviews here.

(Walls, from my Pisac Series)


  1. Open your mind. See the stories.

  2. Anonymous,

    Well, I actually liked Naked Lunch. But this one, not really. I didn't see the point. So if transgressive fiction is meant just to shock the reader, then sorry but no matter how much I open my mind (and believe me, given the books I read, my mind is pretty open), it'll not take off the ground.