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Requiem for a Dream

4.09  ·  Rating Details  ·  34,137 Ratings  ·  762 Reviews
In Coney Island, Brooklyn, Sarah Goldfarb, a lonely widow, wants nothing more than to lose weight and appear on a television game show. She becomes addicted to diet pills in her obsessive quest, while her junkie son, Harry, along with his girlfriend, Marion, and his best friend, Tyrone, have devised an illicit shortcut to wealth and leisure by scoring a pound of uncut hero ...more
Trade Paperback, 279 pages
Published October 12th 1999 by Da Capo Press (first published 1978)
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KT 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.
Hope this helps!
Ramona Definitely read the book first. It's not nearly as terrifying as the film. Makes the story bearable.
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(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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K.D. Absolutely
Sep 25, 2010 K.D. Absolutely rated it really liked it
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,
Jan 12, 2009 Charles rated it did not like it
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
Jun 30, 2014 Becky rated it it was amazing
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
Parthiban Sekar
Among the people who try to find the meaning of the dreams or even interpret them, there are some for whom the mere hint of any positive dream is Life. The solitude, oblivious to the surrounding and the troubles which keep them wide awake in the darkest nights, is what they look for feeling them as a whole. Unable to find it, these ill-fated souls stimulate their solitude by poisoning their veins to save themselves from the madness that is leisurely side-walking toward them. Little do they know ...more
MJ Nicholls
Mar 26, 2012 MJ Nicholls rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: novels, merkins
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
May 09, 2007 Kelly rated it it was amazing
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
May 31, 2015 Kandice rated it really liked it
I'm not even sure where to begin.This book was incredibly hard, and at times painful, to read. The opening scene is of a young man and his friend taking his mother's television to the pawn shop to get money for heroin. Although there is nothing funny about that when you really think about it, I thought that I was in for a sad story told in a comical way. I mean this t.v. has been pawned by the boy and then bought back by the mom so many times that the pawn shop owner has a book to record the tra ...more
Jan 07, 2009 Lavinia rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2009, fiction
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
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
sweet jane
Όσοι με γνωρίζουν, ξέρουν την αδυναμία που έχω στα βιβλία που μεταφέρθηκαν στον κινηματογράφο. Φανταστείτε, λοιπόν, την χαρά μου όταν σε ένα παζάρι βρήκα το Ρέκβιεμ για ένα Όνειρο του Hubert Selby! Η εμβληματική ταινία του Aronofky που τόσο μου άρεσε, πίστευα ότι θα με μαγέψει ακόμα περισσότερο με την λογοτεχνική της διάσταση. Μέγα λάθος μου. Το βιβλίο ήταν ωμό, τραχύ και ανατριχιαστικό όσο και η ταινία, η αξία του όμως μειωνόταν αισθητά στην συγκεκριμένη έκδοση. Υπήρχαν ολόκληρα κομμάτια του κε ...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
Feb 11, 2013 Todd rated it it was amazing
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
Erin (Paperbackstash) *Proud Book Hoarder*

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 ar
Laura Martinez
May 11, 2008 Laura Martinez rated it it was amazing
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
Philippe Malzieu
Mar 17, 2014 Philippe Malzieu rated it really liked it
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
Arax Miltiadous
Feb 15, 2016 Arax Miltiadous rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
ξεμένω από λογία...
όσοι έχουν δει την ταινία , ναι, είναι σίγουρα αριστούργημα και είναι από τις πολύ λίγες που ο σκηνοθέτης κατάφερε να μεταφέρει ταυτόσημα και να εξυψώσει αντίστοιχα το σενάριο του με το ίδιο το βιβλίο.
Η αργκό του συγγραφέα σε βάζει αμέσως στο πετσί των δρώμενων και καταφέρνει να αποφύγει την πολυπλοκότητα που κάνει έναν εκ των έξω να σηκώνει τα χέρια ψηλά και να απηυδεί.
Είναι χίλιες και μια πραγματικές ιστορίες. Η σύλληψη και στέψη οποιουδήποτε ονείρου, το οποίο δύναται να χα
Rita Meade
Mar 21, 2010 Rita Meade rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fiction
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
Dec 09, 2008 Stefani rated it it was amazing
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
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
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
Marie Antoinette
Apr 18, 2015 Marie Antoinette rated it it was amazing
“For weeks Tyrone thought he was going to die any minute, and there were also times when he was afraid he wasnt going to die.”

OMG This Book.....I do not know how to describe it, i'm going to quote Cassandra Clare and said:

“You know that feeling when you are reading a book, and you know that it is going to be a tragedy; you can feel the cold and darkness coming, see the net drawing tight around the characters who live and breathe on the pages. But you are tied to the story as if being dragged b
Aug 10, 2015 Arcadia rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
At first, I was really skeptical towards the book. Junky and Trainspotting had had a very different input about heroin and the course of addiction you undergo with the drug, and I was even surprised when I researched Hurbert Selby Jr. and found that he had been addicted to heroin after being subjected to experimental drug treatment as a cure to his tuberculosis.
The first half of the book is too happy. With occasional heroin use, the characters are not concerned about heroin sickness, the
Nov 08, 2014 Hudson rated it really liked it

I thought this book was a lot like the movie, dark, depressing and bleak!

This is the story of two types of drug addiction that takes place in Coney Island NY in the 1970's. One of the character is a young hoodlum who gets hooked on heroin and the other is a middle aged widow that gets hooked on pills (interestingly enough they are mother and son). I think at one point diet pills were pretty much like legalized speed but a doctor wrote the prescription, so what could be wrong, right? Turns out p
May 12, 2013 Steve rated it it was amazing
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
Jennifer (JC-S)
Sep 19, 2013 Jennifer (JC-S) rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: librarybooks
‘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
Jan 06, 2008 Sara rated it liked it
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

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
Peter to the Getz
Aug 21, 2007 Peter to the Getz rated it really liked it
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
Sep 16, 2012 Mark rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favourites, american
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
Jul 19, 2015 Jason rated it it was amazing
I've just been blown away by another Hubert Selby novel, reading this you can see why it is considered one of the best books on substance abuse. He has the ability to make you feel for the main characters and then slowly destroy them whilst you sit there and helplessly watch. As Sara's life unfolds I was almost reduced to tears, luckily I am a real man and managed to push them to the back of my mind to fester into some later violence.

A beautifully written book but with his usual take on grammar
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Lost Hope 20 137 Dec 19, 2014 07:37AM  
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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....

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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. ” 306 likes
“But you cant shut everyone out. I mean you have to have someone to love. . .someone to hold on to. . . someone--” 224 likes
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