Selby is just about the best author I have ever read. His books speak to me and make me believe what each page says more than any other author. There is a fundamental, and somewhat un-nerving, realism to his books that makes them highly uncomfortable reading, but it is this discomfort which makes me come back to his books again and again. Last Exit To Brooklyn blew me away, with it's picture perfect description of desperate, (an perhaps a little extreme) cases of inner-city slum-type living, and the psychological effects it can have upon it's street dwellers. Requiem For A Dream carried on a nasty, horrid-tasting tale of drug-related woe that Trainspotting could only begin to thinly paint. And now I've read The Demon, and this is another gut-wrencher, ready to pull you under life and show you how it REALLY works.
The Demon focuses on Harry White, a young, high-flying office worker in a successful Manhattan firm, who basically spends his days working hard, travelling hard (he has to journey from his parents' place out of town to work and back every single day), and seducing hard, because Harry's favourite hobby is to pick up strange women (especially if they're married - it adds to the excitement), and then basically dump them right after he's had his fun. The book goes on to show how Harry derives an almost narcotic-like craving for women, and begins to pick up just about anyone on his lunch hour, take them to a motel, and then try to get back to work on time. The futility of his carnal desperation soon takes it's toll on his work-load, and he finds himself getting torn between 'Broads' and potential promotion.
As time goes by, it seems that Harry grows up somewhat. He gets married to a lovely girl he knows called Linda, who mentally captured him by not sleeping with him 'til they were married, thus becoming a sort-of 'chase' for Harry to find irresistable. But even through the wonders and beauty of this marriage, Harry finds himself uneasy at work, on his lunch break, and even at home. So, he wanders the streets of New York and the deep, dark depths of his psychological make-up to find new and exciting ways to fulfill his constant craving for elation, excitement, adrenaline and even terror.
The way in which the story is paced, and the way that Selby has set the story out so that it can swing from one scene of absolute horror to a beautifl, emotional journey is immense. The writing is so bafflingly simple that this, itself, provides the most starkly human quality of all. There is no complex meaning to the way Harry feels, and even if there is, trying to figure it out is futile. The mind of the character is set. No pacing, no adjustment brought on by psychological help. He is what he is, and this will shock you for being to frank. It's like looking through someone's eyes, and that's why it's so good.
I highly recommend this book. No, I dare you to read this book. How does that sound?