An unnamed petty criminal defends himself against the police thugs who try to arrest him, goes on to immediately be acquitted of any charges of striking a policeman, sees the police officers in question be convicted of police brutality, testifies before a Senate hearing on police violence, and in between all this he diddles his girlfriend at the movies, gambles in the alley with the boys, tortures the police officers by training them to be dogs, observes the police officers pulling over a woman and forcing her to do naughty things with them, takes walks in the country, takes walks in the city, enjoys the love of his family, especially his mother, and periodically opens his eyes to stand before the wall of his cell or to check the progress of a large, painful carbuncle on his face.
Similar to Our Lady of the Flowers, this unnamed criminal never leaves prison but creates or recreates a fantasy life outside of the system which has put him away (but Genet is infinitely better … and far more confusing). Like Filth, this criminal engages in or relates some truly disgusting activities, even if they are mostly just his fantasies (imagine testicles lassoed with electrified wire and being force to eat dead and decaying gophers).
Interesting. Selby’s second novel … but not his best.
Still, if you haven’t read Selby, please do so. His treatments are often intense and his untutored prose is raw and realistic. His subjects involve real people from the less glamorous side of life in real and often sordid situations. Transgressive fiction? I don’t know. When is a raw depiction of the underside of life just realism?
Here are his published works of fiction:
- Last Exit to Brooklyn (novel, 1964)
- The Room (novel, 1971)
- The Demon (novel, 1976)
- Requiem for a Dream (novel, 1978)
- Song of the Silent Snow (short stories, 1986)
- The Willow Tree (novel, 1998)
- Waiting Period (novel, 2002)
Last Exit and Requiem have also been made into movies you might want to check out. I especially enjoyed the film, Requiem For a Dream, which starred Jared Leto and Jennifer Connelly. Just remember that Selby does not write feel-good stories.