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on 27 May 2011
Selby's last book is a comparative easy read in his output.

In no way as complex as his other works, it nonetheless raises familiar questions on action, redemption and consequence, maintaining a level of immediacy and freshness through its brevity.

We don't recognise the protagonist, we affiliate with his thoughts and (twisted) logic.

Perfectly paced, this is a final meditation on familiar themes; a fitting swan song.
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on 29 June 2011
Selby is one of the true masters of contemporary (20th century) fiction. He has always been uncompromising, since his very first novel that caused such outrage and impact (Last Exit to Brooklyn).

Waiting Period focuses on the huge frustration and anger that we all feel about the "forces" in our life (read: bureaucracy, institutions, conventional thinking, endless forms to fill in, a demanded subservience to authority).

There are several powerful reasons to read this novel: one, is that it speaks up for thsoe who are most often made silent - the vast majority of the wasted, used, exploited, unemployed, unknown. The narrator of the story speaks directly to you, which is powerful enough in itself. But then you find through his narration that he is one of the many neglected, ignored underclass - he has served the government, he has done his duty - and all he is left with is the endless arbitrage with dealing with government bureaucracy as a war veteran. Ultimately, being ignored over too much time, and feeling, in conclusion, desperately suicidal, he decides to buy a gun and kill himself. But there's a glitch in the computer system, and the few days it takes for him to get the gun, makes him completely re-interpret his purpose and - well, r'aison d'etre.

There are many powerful elements in this novel: not least, that you are drawn in, as a reader, from the outset to the end, to the narrator's own viewpoint; you have no other. He decides, instead of killing himself, he should kill at least the principal figure who controls the finances of the government administration and who, automatically, continues to deny him his rightful claims to support. Most especially, because you are reading the novel from a deeply personal, angry first person point of view, you are left with no choice as a reader but to determine the truth/fiction of his claims/anger et al, according to what he is writing. Selby's genius, is that he enables you to experience the sheer anger, deprivation, frustration and anxiety of a Vet, while at the same time "hearing" the narrator trying, always, to rationalise his behaviour, so that he does the "right" thing.

The intensity, and sheer, unrelenting power, of the narrative, frankly only draws you to one conclusion: inevitably, frankly justifiably, you side with the narrator as he fantasises and commits acts of - how shall we call them - "death"?; "execution"?; no; frankly, you side with him to the point where you think he kills rightly for justice - from the fascistic deniar of rightful VA claims, to genuine racists who have killed and since glorified their actions in yearly festivals. The intensity is comparably to Louis-Ferdinand Celine's fiction, but Selby goes far beyond that. He takes no prisoners; if you read him, from the very first page, you are ultimately drawn - and rightfully compromised/justified - in his viewpoint to take revenge.

An amazing novel - incredibly focused, relentlessly first person, overwhelming, powerful, deeply moving. An important novel that is part of the despair, anxiety, alienation and frustration expressed towards the powerful, institutions and society in general that Celine first articulated in the 1930s onwards and, with Selby, we have a writer who has continued Celine's legacy. Should you read this novel you will, I promise, never forget it.
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TOP 1000 REVIEWERon 9 September 2009
Hubert Selby Jr.'s world is one of violence and hatred, in one word, of `homo homini lupus' (e.g., Last Exit to Brooklyn, the Pusher trilogy). It is a world for loners.

In this book, the main character, a rather simple mind, is confronted with a hostile bureaucracy (a `system to frustrate us so we'll stop trying to get the benefits we deserve'), fanatic and murderous religions (`These holy men of god kill millions and millions of people in the name of god, but you can't take your own life.'), greedy corporations ('What do the lives of a few million people mean if they get in the way of the Bottom Line.') or war (`Millions starving, hundreds of thousands massacred women and children hacked and burned.')
Seeing no solution for the world's evils coming from others and after rejecting suicide during `a waiting period', the innocent mind chooses the path of the `faultless warrior': `The problem is once you start thinking of slime-balls in the world the list is endless. Well, I have plenty of time, a lifetime actually.'
He believes strongly that he has a mission of revenge against the cost cutters, the butchers of the unbelievers, the warmongers and the bureaucrats. His law is `an eye for an eye' and he takes this law in his own hands.

`Waiting Period' is a schizophrenic text, driven by associations. An interior monologue alternates with `objective' interventions of a Guardian Angel, who comments, admires or gives advice to his brother, the 'Angel of Wrath'.
`Waiting Period' is a brutal text without any compromise. Only for the aficionados.
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#1 HALL OF FAMEon 10 October 2002
Selby follows up the average Willow Tree with a return to form. Let's face it, Selby's shopping list would probably be riveting (I loved the short dialogue between Selby & Ellen Burstyn on the Requiem for a Dream DVD ; ditto the introduction to the Bloomsbury reissue of Last Exit to Brooklyn). Waiting Period is a minimal classic up there with similarly recent works like Saul Bellow's The Actual, Don DeLillo's The Body Artist and Denis Johnson's The Name of the World. As with most of his works, Selby makes every.word.count. There's nothing wrong with writing a short book, not every work has to be The Corrections , The Magic Mountain or Ulysses to be validated. Short classics that spring to mind include Last Exit to Brooklyn, The Outsider, A Clockwork Orange, Billy Budd, The Cement Garden...
The story is fairly simple, moving from methods of potential felo de se to a twist on waiting for a gun . A new use is found for the gun when it becomes available...
Waiting period had me laughing out loud, a black humour that reminds you that Kafka was reported to crack up when reading his stories aloud. Imagine Camus writing Taxi Driver, with the humour of Heller's Something Happened or John Kennedy Toole's A Confderacy of Dunces. It's as funny as Richard Brautigan's Confederate General; though existential philosophy rules here (but given a fresh twist by Selby). You recall Beckett's Molloy or the terminal eternity of his plays (say Krapp's Last Tape), or The Fall, or Hunger, or Notes from the Underground , or Woyzeck, or Nausea, or The Myth of Sisyphus (re-reading some of these won't not help). I also felt it was a relative of Mishima's The Temple of Golden Pavillion.
Selby reminds me of Bill Hicks in his Biblical inspired opposition to contemporary America, recalling Eric Bogosian's recent Mall (think post-Columbine , Son of Sam or the recent Sniper case in America- or the cut gym fantasy scene from The Basketball Diaries). Waiting Period is an excellent, concise novel ; much closer to the mark than the frequent tediousness of Chuck Palahniuk- who appears to be as limited in scope as Bret Easton Ellis and Irvine Welsh. A great book from a great writer; in a strange way...ENJOY!!
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on 15 January 2004
For those of you with a tendency towards depression, self absorbtion and bi-polar sociopathic tendencies, I would advise you give this one a miss. Possibly the least cheerful of his books that I'v read and not one I'd read again on holiday, but then this is the kind of bleakness you might expect from Mr Selby. Where as in previous works he has started with everything looking good followed by things going downhill rapidly, here we have our happless hero hitting rock bottom and then slowly but surely sorting himself out and getting on with life. If you think this contradicts what I have said already I would advise you read the book and find out for yourself!
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on 7 July 2002
I got into Hubert Selby Jr's book after I watched the film adaptation of his 'Requiem for a Dream', which is one of my favourite films. Since then I have read four of his books, 'Last Exit to Brooklyn', 'Requiem...', 'The Room', and this book 'Waiting Period', which is by far the worst of the lot and has put me off buying anymore of his books.
The book plods along at a terribly slow pace despite the book being only 200 pages long. Within these 200 pages you are fed plenty of dribble from the main character about how the world is so messed up when he's got no one to kill, and how great it is when he's got someone he's planning to kill. But that's the thing, throughout the whole book he commits two highly un-eventful murders, and a third killing spree to turn Mafioso and Russian gangs against each other is skipped from the story completely, re-joining the character after he's finished this task. Completely ruining what would have been the most interesting part of the book. Where Hubert Selby Jr's 'The Room' perfectly executes the troubled and tormented mind of it's leading character, 'Waiting Period' fails to achieve the slightest fraction of this intensity, leaving you feel like the guy should actually kill himself, putting both the reader and the character out of their misery.
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