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The Room: A Novel
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The Room: A Novel

3.71 of 5 stars 3.71  ·  rating details  ·  1,566 ratings  ·  85 reviews
A viscerally affecting portrait of an incarcerated man who loses himself to dark fantasies of revenge


In The Room, Hubert Selby Jr. imaginatively and convincingly explores the inconceivable depths of madness.

A small-time criminal sits alone in his cell, his mind radiating with sadistic thoughts of retribution against his captors and those who have failed him during his life
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ebook, 288 pages
Published December 13th 2011 by Open Road Media (first published 1971)
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(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Evan
Devastating, and strictly for the most daring reader.
Uncompromising, stark, bleak, uremittingly repetitive, gruesome, sickening and despairing -- The Room is perhaps not as great as Selby's more narratively interesting masterwork, Last Exit to Brooklyn, but it is no less accomplished a novel. The story, if one can call it that, is a mixture of incomplete biographical memories and revenge fantasies as imagined by a prisoner in a cell who is apparently awaiting trial for a petty violent crime (or
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MJ Nicholls
Selby’s second novel is his attempt at a knockabout comedy—drunk vicars chatting up girls on the village green, various cream-heavy pastries being lobbed into the faces of pompous landowners, amusing misunderstandings between bachelors and the parents of honourable virgins. The Room’s republication as a Penguin Classic will kick-start that much-needed Benny Hill revival the world has been begging for. On second thoughts, I might have the wrong book. This one explores the tormented psyche of an u ...more
Paul
The Room is the opposite of Last Exit to Brooklyn and there is a sad explanation for this. Last Exit was his first and The Room was his second. Between the two lay seven years of junk. He spent all the dough from Last Exit, which was considerable, on being a junkie in Los Angeles, where he had fled to get away from the junkies in New York. The Room is a book written by heroin.

Last Exit gives you a tour of hell, a panorama of suffering, drag queens, hoods, lathe operators, union bosses, working c
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Ryland Dinneen
I really wasn't sure what I was getting into when I bought this book. I knew it was dubbed as one of the most disturbing novels ever written and I did believe it, yet didn't think it would affect me much. I passed through American Psycho with flying colours and never uttered a gasp to A Clockwork Orange, and did not think this would be any different. To be honest, I couldn't have been more wrong.
The Room is basically the story of a man in prison (for reasons we are not too sure of) and his fanta
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Marilyn Moreau
I am giving this 5 stars not because I liked it, but because it succeeded in what it was trying to accomplish. A beyond disturbingly horrible nightmare of a read but brilliantly executed. The completely anti-climactic ending left me stunned when I realized what it meant to the story. Another 'underground man' a la Dostoevsky. Hubert Selby, Jr. was quoted as saying that he could not read it for decades after writing it. Well, nor will I be able to. That said and done, I would not recommend this b ...more
Sarah
This is one of the only books I have ever read that made me outright nauseous. Selby's violent and brutal and graphic descriptions of revenge were so real and vivid that I had to keep putting this book down to clear my head. But the fact that an author is capable of making me feel such a strong and real queasiness makes me completely in awe of him. He holds nothing back in this book. Selby makes Bret Easton Ellis's writing seem PG 13. If I was forced to choose between being locked in a room with ...more
Ⓑⓔⓣⓗ
For me this book was a DNF however I'm still choosing (after much thought) to give it 3 stars as I realised the DNF was on me NOT the book or authors writing style. This was clearly written by a genius with the ability to write from the point of view of a total nutter or a bi-poplar sufferer and for that I gave it the 3 stars it was ME who couldn't make head nor tail of the words on the page therefore I couldn't finish and do it justice.

If you like them strange this books for you <3
Beregond 3019
Truly haunting, disturbing, possibly Selby's most affecting work of fiction. This is my third Selby journey; every time I pick him up again, I find myself drawn down into the murky black pit of horrific reality he creates.

Anyone with an aversion to negative or abrasive writing, anyone that lets despairing, violent, powerful art infect them and dislikes the feeling, should stay the hell away from this (and all Selby, but especially this). The imagery is so raw, so unrelenting, and it's that much
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Eli
Hubert Selby is one of my favorite writers, but I couldn't help but feel somewhat ambivalent about this one. While it still has all of the elements of a good Selby book, by about halfway through the book I couldn't help but feel that it was getting a bit repetitive.

The story is one of a man who may or may not be wrongly imprisoned, and his sadistic and brutal thoughts of revenge on the people who put him in this place. Needless to say, a story like this can't help but become repetitive after a w
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Zee
'The Room' is one that should come with a big warning 'explicit content'. It is only for the very, VERY brave. Do not go into this expecting a great deal of semantic gymnastics or beautiful wordplay. Expect regular sexual and gratuitious violence to the nth degree. Selby's intentions are to go down, down, down into the deepest, darkest corners of a criminal's psyche to find what lurks in the cesspool of stunted, starved childhood memories. As he does this, prepare to be challenged mentally and m ...more
Daniel Parks
No one can break a heart in two like Selby. After finishing this book I was reminded of the time I showed the film "Requiem for a Dream" to my younger sister for the first time and how she ran out of the room with tears streaming down her face at the end. He tends to have that affect on people.

I've yet to read "The Willow Tree" or "The Demon," but out of "Requiem," "Last Exit" and "The Room" I feel like this one is his most intensely personal statement. Here is a man desperately trying (and ind
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Ryan Leone
I wouldn't give this book five stars if it wasn't for the residual effects of Cubby's writing. I've read Requiem and Brooklyn, and didn't actually enjoy reading them���; but I was very affected. He has this way of making stories hurt your feelings.

I've done a prison term and have experienced solitary confinement. This book is about neither. It's a metaphorical account of human psychology. It explores the banality of violence and the repetition of fantasy. It's very abstract, cruel, morose, and d
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Sean
i read this a long time ago, but i remember it being so disturbing that i wondered if it was even legal to have this freely available in a pubic library. i was also fully convinced that there was no possible way hubert selby jr wasnt a serial killer.
Rafa
Violencia en estado puro sin una gota de valor literario. Es a la literatura lo que el porno al cine.
Daniel
People's discussion of this book's intensity, it is not hyperbole, although when you hear of people burning the book rather than passing it on, I must say it seems a bit silly and OTT. It is a grotesque look at the result of a life without compassion, and then taken to an extreme I was not expecting. Tough to read, but ultimately rewarding with that familiar sense of hope you always get from Hubert Selby Jr. It is hard to explain; his life was so dark, his imagination so dark, and yet his heart ...more
Joseph Nicolello
I now know why I took a decade-long hiatus from Selby. The style gets old so fast. The fact that this took seven years to write after Last Exit to Brooklyn is pathetic. In a sense, it's a documentation of what happens when success comes to the seeker. So that's that - I'll love Last Exit to Brooklyn for the rest of my life - the other stuff is really just ghosted in the long run. Lucky man to have made a living off of this kind of shit. Good book for wealthy teenagers wearing black nail polish. ...more
Offuscatio
Uno de los libros más violentos que he leído en los últimos tiempos, no apto para estómagos sensibles (y lo digo muy en serio), sobre la impunidad, el destructivo deseo de venganza y la doble moral de las fuerzas del orden.
Robert Dunbar
For the connoisseur -- it doesn't get any darker than this. An intense (and unpleasant) visit to a disturbed (and disturbing) mind.
Sthephan Marte
The most disturbing novel I've ever read. Al conocer el autor de este libro, Hubert Selby Jr., escritor de Réquiem por un sueño, esperaba algo de crudeza, pero no a estas proporciones. ''La habitación'' nos guía por la tortuosa mente de un prisionero en proceso de juicio confinado a aislamiento; mente repleta de fantasías sádicas de lo más gráficas que involucran a las personas que él considera culpables de su actual situación, los agentes policiales... Todo ello combinado con pensamientos en re ...more
Kevin
Misanthropic much, Hubert?
Rebecca
Best. Writer. Ever.
Sophie
I rate this book highly not because I enjoyed reading it but because Hubert Selby Jr.'s writing is phenomenal and The Room achieves the reaction it was written to achieve - a violent, graphic tale that forces the reader to face the nature of what it is to be a vengeful human. An unnamed convict seethes in his secluded cell, convinced he was unjustly convicted he plots revenge against the arresting officers in intensely graphic detail that only grows as the book progresses. The Room is bleak, s ...more
Katie John
A disturbing exploration into the mind of an angry young man and a damning critique of the way in which certain individuals are destined to suffer at the hands of 'The State'. As is the nature of Selby's work, the images used to make his socio-political critique is shocking and graphic: there is excessive sexual violence and images of psycho-sexual sadism (including explicit rape and abuse scenes) - which are designed to shock the reader into some form of loathing for both the 'monster' fantasis ...more
Flami
This ought to be, indeed, the most disturbing novel one can read. And also the most rewarding in terms of depth in the investigation of the most neglected and denied human proclivities.

It is a book about the either liberating or devastating power of dreams, about their equally destructive and elating potential.

When I got to the cops/dogs training part, I first wondered what cops had done to Selby to cause this utterly evil and crude, sadistic depiction of the obliteration of two souls. I had to
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Rozzer
Back when I was in grad school a high school buddy stopped by while passing through town. We drank beer and caught up with each other. After a six-pack or so the conversation, for whatever reason, turned to censorship. And we wandered through the subject at random, trading views. At last we started talking about what we would do if we were emperor of the world. I remarked that, on reflection, I was absolutely in favor of the First Amendment and complete freedom of the press. There was, however, ...more
Brian Lindsay
It's hard to know how to describe this book to someone. If you haven't read it, it's a difficult book for me to recommend. Even though I have to say that Hubert Selby Jr has probably never written with such clarity and brilliance, the fact remains that there really is nothing likeable about the story. The protagonist is instantly disagreeable and from the first page until the very last your opinion of him will only diminish further.

I think the problem with recommending this book, and the problem
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Daniel Smith
Tough read in many ways. This story creates a bleak world. Very claustrophobic, you feel like you are inches from the protagonist the whole time - staring him in the eyes.

I enjoyed the lack of sentiment, the cynical and harsh reality. It is not devoid of feeling or heart though, rather the opposite. I guess it was what I had expected from the author of Requiem for a Dream but then I have only seen the film.

I got this book after reading an article on Lou Reed were he spoke of Selby as an influe
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Guy
Vermoedelijk het hardste, meest meedogenloze boek in m’n boekenkast. Was Last Exit To Brooklyn al een beproeving, dan doet The Room er nog een schepje bovenop, met z’n giftige cocktail van walging, sadisme en obsessiviteit. Nu eens voelt het aan als een kafkaiaanse nachtmerrie (een man wordt om onduidelijke redenen opgepakt en opgesloten), dan weer als een gruwelijke dissectie van een geest die laveert tussen grootheidswaanzin, groteske geweldfantasieën en ijskoude misantropie. Een wrange, depri ...more
Claire
Without exaggeration the most breathtakingly dark and gruelling thing I've ever read. I'm not saying that admiringly. I was skimming by the end as I couldn't bring myself to fully immerse myself in it again. I know this is considered a masterpiece by some people but I haven't got the stomach to spend any more time finding out why.....I clearly don't get it. If there was a point or a subtext or a message I was too distracted by the dizzyingly violent graphic torture and rape scenes so I hope I'll ...more
Carmen Barreto
Dark and creepy book narrated by a child. It takes a while before you realize where the inhabitants really are. Like I said....dark and creepy. An okay book.
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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....
Requiem for a Dream Last Exit to Brooklyn The Demon Waiting Period Song of the Silent Snow

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“Time has to pass. But sometimes its so goddamn long. Sometimes it just seems to drag and drag and weigh a ton. And hang on you like a monkey. Like its going to suck the blood out of you. Or squeeze your guts out. And sometimes it flies. And is gone somewhere, somehow, before you know it was even here. As if time is only here to make you miserable. That's the only reason for time. To squeeze you. Crush you. To tie you up in knots and make you fucking miserable.” 8 likes
“It's always the same--you get used to one thing, then it changes. Get used to another, and that changes. Over and over. Always the same.

O well, the hell with it. It's not important anyway.”
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