Dying Inside

Robert Silverberg
Dying Inside Cover

Dying Inside


There is no doubt that Robert Silverberg is one of the giants of Science-Fiction. Yet, at the same time, I guess I have a human desire to read a good story, one that makes me feel good on some level, and sometimes Silverberg is not in the mood to do that for me.

I should stop here to explain that I feel I need to talk about spoilers to say much, so if you don't want to be spoiled, you should stop reading here.

Silverberg's hero is a David Selig, a Jewish young man in the New York area born around 1935 who finds that he is capable of mind-reading. But this does not lead to an idyllic life at all. Somehow, he can never use his powers in such a way as to lead a stable love life or to have a solvent lifestyle. In love, he either invades his lady's mind and feels guilty about it, or doesn't and she somehow feels creepy about him and breaks it off.

It is not really sufficiently explained why he continues to have money problems. At some point in the novel, he becomes a stockbroker, and makes pretty good money for a while. There is a romantic disaster, but I'm not sure why he eventually resorts to selling college students essays on any assigned subjects.

He makes friends with a more successful telepath, who is bemused why David always feels so guilty. I am always reminded of Philip Roth's PORTNOY'S COMPLAINT, so my guess is, David feels guilty because he is Jewish. His power generally allowed him to run circles around his parents, but they succeeded in making him a guilt-ridden Jew.

At the end, his power seems to fade completely away, but there is little feeling that his life will now improve, except that now he and his hated little sister may finally be on better terms.

I guess I can't really recommend this book, although it got several nominations for awards. I don't even think it's an accurate picture of what it would be like to be a person with psychic powers, I'm afraid.