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Waiting for the End of the World (Contemporary American Fiction) Paperback – October 7, 1986
This month's Book With Buzz: "Little Fires Everywhere" by Celeste Ng
From the bestselling author of Everything I Never Told You, a riveting novel that traces the intertwined fates of the picture - perfect Richardson family and the enigmatic mother and daughter who upend their lives. See more
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.
Top customer reviews
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)
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.)