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Requiem for a Dream by Hubert Selby Jr.

Requiem for a Dream (1978)

by Hubert Selby Jr.

Other authors: See the other authors section.

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
1,799235,842 (4.08)37
  1. 00
    The Butcher Boy by Patrick McCabe (ursula)
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    sanddancer: Both bleak but well-written stories of addiction.
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    The Girl Next Door by Jack Ketchum (Waldheri)
    Waldheri: Though Requiem for a Dream is about drugs and The Girl Next Door about abuse, the depressing, bleak and hopeless atmosphere is similar in both books.
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» See also 37 mentions

English (22)  French (1)  All languages (23)
Showing 1-5 of 22 (next | show all)
I was surprised by this book. I ended up with an appreciation of it when I expected to dislike it. The book was written by Hubert Selby, Jr in 1978. It is a story that tells the story of four people living in the Bronx. Selby is an author who endeavors to attack the American dream and his book looks at life lived in urban poverty and addictions. It is a story of addictions; addictions to TV, addictions to food, addictions to drugs and the desire to achieve something but never getting there. Selby captures the spiral of degradation that these addictions bring to Sara the mother addicted to TV and food, her son Harry with a dream to have a coffee house, Tyrone C. Love, and their girlfriends. It explores loneliness, futility and being unnecessary. The author captures the downward spiral into madness.

"Nobody know who they are. Everybody is running around looking for an identitiy or trying to borrow one, only they don't know it."
"dope continues to flow through their blood, whispering dreams to every living cells int their bodies.".

Comments at the end of the book;
Selby experimented with grammar, punctuation, spelling, language.
The brutal urban landscapes he portrayed, combined with potent immediacy of his prose.
His frank descriptions of drugs, prostitution, and the rough Brooklyn streets that he (the author) had known since his childhood.

Selby also experienced addiction to first morphine then heroin ( )
  Kristelh | Jul 23, 2018 |
3.5 stars.

Oh my God, what a terrifying story. The writing style took a bit getting used to but it fit the work perfectly. It flowed and swirled and wouldn't let go - just like the drug addiction it was depicting - and led the reader relentlessly through the horrifying ordeals of Sarah Goldfarb, her son Harry, his best friend Tyrone and his girlfriend Marion, as each succumbs to a drug addiction and lose control over their life completely. The mere reading of it was a racking, chilling experience. I couldn't in all honesty say I enjoyed the book, but it was definitely something that would haunt me for a long time.

I am more than ready to watch the movie now. ( )
  UDT | May 1, 2018 |
It is rather dark and depressing but since I was prepared for that I was able to keep on reading. Out of all the people profiled the one I felt did not deserve her fate was the mother who got hooked on diet pills because she wanted to lose weight to fit into her red dress to be on TV. The medical profession enabled her addiction and then denied her the appropriate treatment. I would like to think that would not happen any more but I am not so sure. As for the three younger people, they sought their own addictions so I couldn't feel too sorry for them but, of course, their fates were horrible.

And its not as though dangerous drug addictions occur just in big cities with heroin. Just after I read this book I read an article about crack cocaine and ecstasy and the effects those drugs have on users. Crack cocaine apparently is instantly addictive and because it is relatively cheap it is accessible to lots of people in a way that heroin never was.

The writing style of this book was terrific. It really made me feel like I was right in the room with the people talking. That's a rare gift. ( )
  gypsysmom | Aug 25, 2017 |

All have disappointments in life - for me, this book turned out to be one of them. The movie has always seemed an art form, the perfect and in-your-face warning to stay off the drugs, kids, they're just no good. I was beyond excited to finally read the book that turned into such a (at least to me...) well-done movie.

Disappointing. :( And, after looking at other reviews, I'm apparently in the minority.

The main issue is the writing style. It just doesn't work with my brain. It's supposed to be artsy and different and...well, I really don't know. I'm not getting this art. At all. What I get when reading this is no logical structure, annoying dialogue that just makes it a headache to decipher, annoyance, everything running together without enough pause, annoyance. I did find a key to it after reading a while -read slow. Can't read fast. Have to read slow and it becomes more tolerable.

The dialogue is all mixed into the narrative. There are no spaces or regularly followed structures. There aren't many quotation marks.

As with the movie, the mother shone as the star of the story. Sad stuff. The more I stayed on her viewpoint, the smoother the sailing. When it switched to the troubled youth and their disjointed thoughts, followed by even worse dialogue, the reading grew rougher again. I felt sympathy for them all and by the end had warmed to them more, but it took too long for me to get there.

Overall the story truly is excellent - the characters aren't special people, but they're not bad. They're everyday victims of drugs, misled lives, loneliness, and bleak despair. The story would likely hit people's hearts less if it were about the fortunate and the special. This is a tale of what happens to so many average citizens - and how sad it that?

The second half of the book was much better than the first. Maybe I was more used to the writing style, but I think the tale had livened up and I felt more consumed by the madness and spiraling descent into destruction that the characters themselves were feeling.

I have to give kudos for an excellent story, but the sludging along through those lagging parts, accompanied by the sometimes tedious writing, lowered the rating a lot. It's impossible not to feel for the characters though, as they struggle to hold on to their dreams and aspirations while they destroy themselves. Haunting, sobering stuff there.

I'm surprised to say the movie is the winner. Besides having an excellent cast, that score by Clint Mansell just can't be beat.

( )
  ErinPaperbackstash | Jun 14, 2016 |
Selby's depressing portrait of the futility of seeking the American dream, whether it is the personal triumph of appearing on a TV show, the pursuit of riches through drug dealing, or seeing your dreams and talent fade as you sink into endless addiction and exploitation is pretty powerful stuff. Certainly, the depiction of drug dependency and the self-delusion of addicts who think they are still in control, rings with absolute truth--as it should, being drawn from Selby's own life story. Unfortunately, the three addicts, the couple Harry and Marion, and their friend Tyrone, don't have Selby's resiliency. The fourth subject of the book is Harry's mother, Sara, who goes from a couch potato mourning the passing (10 years ago) of her husband and oblivious to her son's addiction, to a misled women who believes she is going to appear on a TV show and is willing to do anything necessary to lose the weight so she can fit into her treasured red dress (that she wore to her son's bar mitzvah). Her story is the most pitiful, but also the most contrived and unbelievable, and it definitely mars the effect of the book as a whole.

There is little that is unconvincing about the stories of Harry, Marion, and Tyrone, however. But neither is there any reason for the reader (at least a non drug-addicted reader) to identify with them. There is little back story, and we don't see how they became addicts in the first place, which makes it hard to be very sympathetic. Selby, I suppose, would blame it on the American dream, but I don't think the American dream has drug addiction as a prerequisite. Still, getting inside these characters' heads is quite an experience, although it is sometimes difficult to believe that some of their thoughts come from brains impaired by heroin, marijuana, alcohol, pills, and whatever else they can get their hands on (and use simultaneously!) Harry and Marion also like to listen to Mahler, which seems a little odd.

Many readers will undoubtedly be put off by Selby's writing style, such as his lack of quotation marks and style of running conversations among multiple characters into single paragraphs that are not always completely clear. Still, once you get accustomed to it after a few pages, it isn't hard to follow the story and it provides an immediacy that breaking every conversation into a stream of short paragraphs would kill.

Overall, I'm certainly glad I read this book. It immerses you in a world that is totally alien to most of us, and, depressing as it is, it still manages to provide a grim entertainment. It doesn't rise to the level of profundity or greatness, but it certainly stands out from the pack.

The author bio and family photographs at the end of this Kindle edition are also a nice touch. ( )
  datrappert | Jun 26, 2015 |
Showing 1-5 of 22 (next | show all)
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» Add other authors (4 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Hubert Selby Jr.primary authorall editionscalculated
Aronofsky, DarrenForewordsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Price, RichardForewordsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Information from the German Common Knowledge. Edit to localize it to your language.
Wo der Herr nicht das Haus baut, so arbeiten umsonst, die daran bauen. Psalm 127,1
Verlaß dich auf den herren von ganzem Herzen und verlaß dich nicht auf deinen Verstand; sondern gedenke an ihn in allen deinen Wegen, so wird er dich recht führen.
Die Sprüche Salomons, Kapitel 3, Vers 5 und 6
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Dieses Buch ist, in Liebe, Bobby gewidmet, der den einzigen "reinen Stoff" gefunden hat - den Glauben an den liebenden Gott.
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Harry locked his mother in the closet.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0714530875, Paperback)

Over twenty years after its first publication in 1978, Requiem for a Dream makes it to the big screen in a major motion picture starring Ellen Burstyn, Jennifer Connelly, Marlon Wayans, Jared Leto, and Christopher McDonald. Directed by Darren Aronofsky, the highly acclaimed director of Pi, the movie was released in November 2000. In this searing novel, two young hoods, Harry and Tyrone, and a girlfriend fantasize about scoring a pound of uncut heroin and getting rich. But their habit gets the better of them, consumes them and destroys their dreams. "Selby's place is in the front rank of American novelists. His work has the power, the intimacy with suffering and morality, the honesty and moral urgency of Dostoevsky's....To understand Selby's work is to understand the anguish of America." -- The New York Times Book Review

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:18:18 -0400)

(see all 2 descriptions)

This book is about four individuals who pursued the American Dream. In this searing novel, two young hoods, Harry and Tyrone, and a girlfriend fantasize about scoring a pound of uncut heroin and getting rich. But their heroin habit gets the better of them, consumes them and destroys their dreams and Harry's mother's addiction to diet pills lands her in a state mental hospital.… (more)

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An edition of this book was published by Penguin Australia.

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