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Requiem for a Dream: A Novel
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Requiem for a Dream: A Novel

4.07 of 5 stars 4.07  ·  rating details  ·  28,732 ratings  ·  602 reviews
An evocative, poignant saga of four people trapped—and ultimately destroyed—by their addictions

Sara Goldfarb is devastated by the death of her husband. She spends her days watching game shows and obsessing over appearing on television as a contestant—and her prescription diet pills only accelerate her mania. Her son, Harry, is living in the streets with his friend Tyrone a...more
ebook, 284 pages
Published December 13th 2011 by Open Road Media (first published 1978)
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Kathleen My answer is going to be very biased. This book is one of my favorites. I loved the book and I loved the movie. Of all the book-to-movie adaptations…moreMy answer is going to be very biased. This book is one of my favorites. I loved the book and I loved the movie. Of all the book-to-movie adaptations I've seen, Requiem for a Dream was one of the best as far as staying true to the source goes. Since you loved the movie, I'd say "Sure! Why not?".
Just be warned, the writing style can trip you up a bit at first. Hubert Selby Jr. doesn't like punctuation. You will see many run-on sentences. Forget about quotation marks. I was having a hard time with it at first, but then I got used to it. If anything, it really makes you feel like you are experiencing the story. To me, it made the book even more powerful.
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K.D. Absolutely
Sep 25, 2010 K.D. Absolutely rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to K.D. by: 1001 Books You Must Read Before You Die (2006-2010)
Shelves: 1001-core, drama
We all want to have better lives. When I was young, I wanted to be a teacher my father said no money in teaching. So, I wanted to be an agriculturist he said you will be digging dirt till the day you die. So, I wanted to be a priest priests die with their ass dirty as no one takes care of them. So, what? Why not be a doctor? Okay. After becoming a medtech, what? But he did not have money to send me to a medical school. Ha ha ha ha

In my iPod, I have this song by The Pussycat Dolls. One morning,...more
Jan 12, 2009 Charles rated it 1 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: no one
Shelves: literary
Am I the only person in the world who thought this book was terrible? From the Amazon reviews, apparently so. The book is all narrative and dialouge. In other words, all telling with virtually no "showing."

And what's up with cramming everyone's dialogue into the same paragraph so you can't always tell who is speaking? Why not just break it normally so it's clear? Or for goodness sake, use quotation marks. And can you get any more pretentious than being too good to use an apostraphe when you wri...more
MJ Nicholls
Selby’s novels are transgressive masterpieces with a bigness of heart and a strange, spiritual tenderness. The epigraph to this book alludes to Selby’s faith (in God) and I can see him writing about these doomed dope fiends with the compassion of a pastor tending to his flock. This heartbreaking novel follows the decline of four distinct Americans—young working-class white male Jew, young middle-class white female Jew, young working-class black non-Jew, and elderly widow. All four are addicts th...more
Man. MAN. That's some fucked up shit, right there. I have so much to say about this book that I don't know where I should start or how to say anything, and last night when I started this review, I was just kind of stuck in a kind of disturbed loss for words. And I've seen the movie and I knew what to expect - but I still feel a deep sadness and revulsion and shock after finishing the story. It's just... traumatizing. Brilliant, but traumatizing.

I'll just go ahead and say now that if you're conc...more
Wow wow wow wow wow. Requiem for a Dream manages to be so painful and beautiful at the same time. Although I'd seen the film before I read this book and knew the fate of the characters, I was still following their paths with such anxiety and hope. It's an account of people who dream big but lose much bigger.

It follows four characters in the Bronx. There's Sarah, a widow who spends her days living vicariously through her television while eating boxed chocolates. On the warm days, she joins her li...more
I'm quite surprised that many readers regard it as a book about drug addiction and junkies of different types. I (as the title clearly states) mainly see it as an attempt of pursuing the American Dream, the one that grants all American citizens total and pure freedom. And so, since nobody really knows if the Dream is dead or not, anybody is free to try it out.

What makes it better than the film (if this was ever debatable), is the story-line and the stories behind the characters. Due to my bad me...more
Julian Meynell
I came to Selby because I realized that I was interested in a genre called transgressive fiction, which I had not, until recently, even heard of. When I checked out the genre, in addition to many of my favorite books, I discovered that Selby was a leading writer. I then read Last Exit To Brooklyn and loved it, so I followed up with this book. It never occurred to me it would be as good. It turns out that Requiem For A Dream is the best book I have read written since the 1950's.

The book is about...more
Requiem for a Dream was an addiction for me.

The pun intended.

I couldn't read this fast enough. I wish I hadn't been so busy, and could have devoured this in one day. This is an easy, five star favorite for me.

Requiem was my first Selby, Jr. read, and it definitely impressed me. The writing style is his own, and every character's personality was so visual and real. The story of these four people is heartbreaking in their own ways, but, compulsively readable in their own right.

Is it weird to s...more
Joselito Honestly and Brilliantly
This didn't "get" me. Not the author's fault. His characters are real: the widow, hooked on tv, obsessed with getting thin, becomes addicted to diet pills which were her vehicle towards a descent to madness (with a little help from an incompetent and corrupt physician); her only son, a junkie, his girlfriend, his buddy and his own girlfriend--all with their heroin-addled brains; their delusions that they are in control of their lives; the demonic power the drug has on them. These made me wonder...more
Laura Martinez
I read a review about the movie that said that the movie, Requiem, burrows under your skin and stays there for a while. This is true of the book, too. Each character speaks differently and you have to get used to their way of speaking as the author doesn't use punctuation marks and end sentences with 'Harry replied' or 'Marian said.' It is a fresh style of reading. This book IS very disturbing; so disturbing that a friend of mine threw it across the room when he finished it and asked me why anyo...more
Some stories can shake me to the core. Today, I finished one such story.

I’ve heard talk about the film Requiem for a Dream for several years now, how it’s considered one of the most disturbing and hopeless movies of all time.

Sounds fun, right?

Due to the hype, I decided to check out the novel off of which the film is based.


Hubert Selby Jr.’s 1978 book of the same title has what sounds like a simple plot: people get addicted to drugs, and it’s bad. From the back of the book: “In Coney Islan...more
Rita Meade
Remember that slow horrible realization you had when you were a kid, when you became conscious of the fact that your parents wouldn't always be there to take care of you and that there are bad things in the world and that we all eventually die alone? This book unearths that feeling from its hiding place in your soul, magnifies it, and plunks it right into the pit of your stomach for 280 pages. There's not a dishonest word in this book - just raw emotion, fear, and hopelessness seeping from every...more
After reading Last Exit to Brooklyn, I thought that I had seen the worst of Selby's characters. As I tensely awaited the conclusion of each chapter, hoping that maybe just one of the characters would manage to get ahead or break the cycle of dependency on drugs, I would be rendered speechless by the desperation and insanity brought on by addiction. As the darkness of winter descends upon Brooklyn, Harry, Tyrone & Marion all find themselves stumbling through the night to get their next fix, ,...more
Philippe Malzieu
Bukowski, Harlan Elison, Fante,Carver and Selby, in the 80th, everybody read them. Why in this prosperity time,it was this kind of book which fascinated us. Someone saw there the back of the American dream. It is false, the heroes of this book aspires at the social success. Their dream are naive.
We imagine them gaining money and have children. Their ingenuity will lose them. They will be crushed physically and morally. Marion will finish prostitute sordidly. There is a certain naturalism which d...more
Darren Aronofsky, who directed the film adaptation of Requiem for a dream wrote 'I needed to make a film from this novel because the words burn off the page. Like a hangman's noose, the words scorch your neck with rope burn and drag you into the sub-sub-basement we humans build beneath hell'. I concur. And there is not a great deal i can add to that apart from a few personal musings.

It took me quite a long time to read this book, as being an addict and alcoholic myself i found the experience su...more
Jan 06, 2008 Sara rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: adventurous readers, those who like books that challenge them, fans of realism and/or naturalism
This book isn't for everyone, the imagery is graphic and at times, terrifying and the characters are heartbreakingly misguided and flawed. Selby's writing style allows the reader to experience the tragic lives of Sara Goldfarb and her son Harry and their pathetic attempts at achieving the American Dream at any price. What's most startling and painful to read is how unflinchingly these characters cling to their naive aspirations even as their world crumbles around them. I read this for my Natural...more
UPDATE "On acid stars you're getting there"-Hole


Requiem For A Dream follows the downward trajectory of lives of four people in 1980's living in Bronx. It talks about addiction. About how it plunges a knife in the stomach and ruthlessly murders the American Dream.

“I suspect there will never be a requiem for a dream, simply because it will destroy us before we have the opportunity to mourn it's passing.”

Requiem for a Dream is the story of four addicts. There's Sara, the empty nester, TV...more
Jennifer (JC-S)
‘When dreams become nightmares.’

There are four key characters in ‘Requiem for a Dream’: Sara Goldfarb, a lonely widow who spends her days watching television and eating chocolate; her son Harry; Harry’s friend Tyrone C. Love and Harry’s girlfriend Marion. These four lead us through the depths and despair of addiction.

As the story opens, it’s summer in New York City and Harry and Tyrone take Sara’s television to the pawn shop. They need the money for drugs. Sara gets her television back – not fo...more
Peter to the Getz
Aug 21, 2007 Peter to the Getz rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: anyone with a backbone and metal studded underwear
Shelves: againandagain
Brooklyn true, Requiem for a Dream is a disection of Brighton Beach in particular. One part historical. One part cultural. Two parts bi-polar. Both manic.

The Requiem is for the dream three twenty-something's have to sell heroin and live a trouble free life. We will also put to rest the dream of an elderly widow who before her television appearence wants to fit into the red dress her husband once admired her in.

This is a true-to-life portrayal. Relentless in it's search of a healthy vein to injec...more
A very, very good book. Selby Junior's writing style takes a few pages to get used to but once accustomed, the style adds another dimension to the story. The lack of punctuation and clear indication of speaker emphasises the chaotic, confused state of mind the characters experience and helps convey the effects the drugs has on them. Yes it's a very depressing story but it's created in such a compelling way; you feel like an outsider witnessing the characters' increasing dependency on drugs and t...more
Erin ~ (It's October, time for creepy books)
3.5 stars - Review soon, but to me the movie is the winner and is definitely better. Besides having an excellent cast, that score by Clint Mansell just can't be beat. The second half of this book was more interesting, more readable, and more enjoyable than the first half - but the sludging along through those lagging parts, accompanied by the sometimes tedious writing, lowered the rating a lot. Greatly appreciate the story, but I don't care much for the delivery of it's writing. There was redemp...more
Without really heeding Lou Reed's warning on the front cover "If you read this, be careful..." I've traversed the wild pages of this book with much enthusiasm to discover just exactly what gives it its nefarious reputation.

It was difficult at first, with all the dialogues put together indiscriminately, but i got used to telling apart the different voices of Selby's unique characters. I was reading this through bad times, and it was incredibly slow for me at the start because i couldn't be arsed...more
It's not just about Heroin addiction, this book. Theirs also Dexies, Poppers, Valium, Hash & all sorts of uppers & downers + other narcotic & pharmaceutical shit so I grew my DK(dope knowledge) & can be a more believable junkie poser now but you know the most insidious drug that we feed on is the bloody tube & gluttony & consumerism & selfishness. It's also about the innocent & naive who feed on them that includes all of us. Dope fines are just an abject parable...more
Although this is an extremely graphic novel, Requiem for a Dream has many meanings to it other than the drug addicts it displays. The story follows four different drug addicts and their dark futures they each have. Three of the four are drug addicts trying to live what they feel is the American Dream, and the other is a widowed mother that has her dreams crushed and turns to diet pills until her mind degenerates.
Although the book isn't bright and happy, it really can bring you to grasp how some...more
It's fortunate that literary heroin, or 'book smack' as we call it in the mean aisles of the campus library, is both less physically damaging than the powder form, and much less easy to use. And, I suppose, easier to score. Book smack can't be injected into your body and you just sit back and it does its work.

It's more subtle than that.

But, fuck man, i/ll tell ya what, this stuff is some good shit, I mean, yeah, theres rough around the edges moments that if you/re not in the vibe you might star...more

Shocking. Beautiful. Harrowing. Perfect.

Finished this book nearly two weeks ago and it still haunts me. It’s beautiful and moving in the way that a tragic and all-too-believable story can be.

A cautionary tale of illegal drug use as well as the more socially-acceptable addictions set in the Bronx in the late 70s. The characters are all dreamers in some way, propped by their various substances and habits; Hubert Selby, Jr. portrays the fine line between dreams and delusion, a line that become...more
Hubert Selbey Jr.'s Requiem for a Dream is a hard book to read ... not due so much to its sensitive subject matter, which is frankly riveting, as to Selby's unconventional, stream-of-consciousness prose. The guy barely believes in basic punctuation marks, let alone quotes, paragraph breaks, or dialog attribution. It takes a while to get into it.

Once you do, however, you're rewarded with one of the more honest (and bleak) looks at addiction and the downward spiral it causes in people's lives. Thi...more
To describe this in a word: denial. Of course there is a strong element of addiction, but to me, most of all, it is the story of four individuals' denial.

The book starts off hard, with Harry stealing his mother Sara's old TV set to pawn off, while she locks herself in a closet. Tyrone is Harry's best friend. Marion appears a few pages in, and becomes Harry's girlfriend. The tense beginning eventually softens into a mild reverie where things are hopeful for the four, where each has some wild bel...more
Andreea Irina
First of all this book amazed me by its format. It's plain writing, no dialogue marks, it just keeps going and going. And I loved it.
It's funny when it wants to be funny and it's dark when it wants to be dark. You sympathize with the characters, you feel for them ( God knows I felt sorry for the old widow all the way through the book and I still am when I'm thinking about it ) and it just gets you. It's that kind of a book. That you read and you can't possibly stay immune to all that happens. I...more
Yet another Selby novel that raped me in the eye holes. Not for you if you don't want to be slightly traumatized by book's end. It's a literary kick in the teeth, and that shit hurts. Like all of Selby's books, it's rough, crude, and astonishingly affecting. I couldn't shake this one for days. The most disturbing thread of all the disturbing threads belongs to Sara Goldfarb, without a doubt. Never have I encountered such a painfully pitiable character. The repetition of the younger characters' j...more
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Lost Hope 12 114 Oct 01, 2014 12:21PM  
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Hubert Selby, Jr. was born in Brooklyn and went to sea as a merchant marine while still in his teens. Laid low by lung disease, he was, after a decade of hospitalizations, written off as a goner and sent home to die. Deciding instead to live, but having no way to make a living, he came to a realization that would change the course of literature: "I knew the alphabet. Maybe I could be a writer." Dr...more
More about Hubert Selby Jr....
Last Exit To Brooklyn The Room The Demon Waiting Period Song of the Silent Snow

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“Eventually we all have to accept full and total responsibility for our actions, everything we have done, and have not done. ” 240 likes
“But you cant shut everyone out. I mean you have to have someone to love. . .someone to hold on to. . . someone--” 202 likes
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