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Used: Very Good | Details
Condition: Used: Very Good
Comment: Very Good used copy: Some light wear to cover, spine and page edges. Very minimal writing or notations in margins. Text is clean and legible. Possible clean ex-library copy with their stickers and or stamps.
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Waiting for the End of the World (Contemporary American Fiction) Paperback – October 7, 1986

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Editorial Reviews

From Library Journal

Bell is the author of one previous novel, The Washington Square Ensemble ( LJ 2/15/83). His new work is an odd compendium of the trendy and the obscure. A terrorist cell that has the bomb, spontaneous human combustion, street people in Times Square suffering from radiation poisoning, and human torture by devil worshippers are some of the ingredients in this awkward stew of a novel. Anti-hero Larkin, an epileptic who sees demons and hears apocalyptic voices, careens through the plot like a loose cannon on the deck of a sinking ship. Larkin is a barely appealing main character; other members of the motley crew are even worse. Motivations are muddy or nonexistent. There is some good writing and narrative drive, but too many philosophical concerns compete for space. For large fiction collections only. A.J. Wright, Univ. of Alabama at Birmingham Lib.
Copyright 1985 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Product Details

  • Series: Contemporary American Fiction
  • Paperback: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Books (October 7, 1986)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0140093303
  • ISBN-13: 978-0140093308
  • Product Dimensions: 7 x 1 x 5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 3.2 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,187,050 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Madison Smartt Bell is a critically acclaimed writer of more than a dozen novels and story collections, as well as numerous essays and reviews for publications such as Harper's and the New York Times Book Review. His books have been finalists for both the National Book Award and the PEN/Faulkner Award, among other honors.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

13 of 14 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on June 17, 1997
Format: Paperback
A brief look at the list of writers that have sharpened their pencils at the Iowa Writers' Workshop shows how outstanding the talent is that goes through this institution. Writers as diverse and eloquent as Raymond Carver, John Irving, T.C. Boyle and Pinckney Benedict have learnt the tricks of the trade at the Ur-workshop of all creative writing schemes. Madison Smartt Bell has taught there.
Waiting For The End Of The World, his second novel, is a whole lot better plotted and constructed than his already quite promising debut Washington Square Ensemble, delivered at the tender age of 26.
Set in the valleys of Manhattan and Brooklyn, Waiting For The End Of The World is a modern day tale, a dark and doomy epic of Russian proportions. No other book - of the nine novels and two short story collections - that Bell has written to date has even been close to the boiling dark atmospheres, layered and set into deeper and even deeper, unknown systems and tunnels of the ultimate urban landscape that is New York City. Nothing compares to this helter skelter with its seemingly random anecdotes, a definitive plot, and tales of utter lunacy.
As ludicrous as it will sound, Waiting For The End Of The World is a classic on a par with Dostoevsky's works (which did indeed serve as some serious inspiration)
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Hibs on December 9, 2007
Format: Paperback
There actually is a lot of plot in this book, a group of terrorists trying to set off a nuclear bomb in New York City, a child-torturing devil-worshipper turned skid-row serial killer, Vietnam horror stories, the Sorbonne riots of the 60's, a mafia mass-murder, an American drug courier's unpleasant stay in a Mexican prison, and a former junkie disfigured by his own mother turned arsonist. Not to mention appearances by a ghost, a few cases of spontaneous human combustion and a very Dostoevsky-ish devil.

Yet for some unknown reason, Bell decides to start off with a longish episode of the main protagonist watching the changes in the sky. (This follows a Roscoe and Enos prologue where if you blink you might not realize a murder just took place.)

After about the first hundred pages, it's a tough book to put down, but those first hundred or so pages are a bit more of a struggle than they should have been. Bell knows how to tell a story but for a while there he seems more intent on showing he can write pretty.

Two stars off, one for the slow pacing at the start and one for a bit too much magical realism, (the ghost added nothing and made me start to resent the devil worshipper and the spontaneous human combustion cases as well.)
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6 of 18 people found the following review helpful By Mark Brown on August 23, 1998
Format: Paperback
Post-Modern posturing and hocus pocus masquerading as mysticism and eschatology. Larkin is the closest thing to an interesting character this book presents, and its pacing makes frozen molasses seem to run like quicksilver. No need to mention plot inconsistencies and outright gaffes by the author. The editor should be shot.
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