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The Room

3.69  ·  Rating Details ·  2,554 Ratings  ·  142 Reviews
Secluded in his remand cell, a small-time criminal surrenders himself to sadistic fantasies of hatred and revenge. Selby's second novel is a claustrophobic descent into the tormented soul of a man trapped in a loveless society.
Paperback, 288 pages
Published April 1st 2001 by Marion Boyars Publishers Ltd (first published 1971)
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Devastating, and strictly for the most daring reader.

Uncompromising, stark, bleak, unremittingly 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
Paul Bryant
Apr 02, 2012 Paul Bryant rated it did not like it
Shelves: novels
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
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
The Literary Chick
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
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
Jul 04, 2009 Sarah rated it really liked it
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
Jun 20, 2015 Allan rated it really liked it
I have previously read four of Selby Jr's novels, the last in 2009, but was spurred to return to his writing when I saw one of myGRfriends reading 'Last Exit to Brooklyn'. I started with this one simplybecause it was the first to arrive through my letterbox after ordering. Published in 1972, it was seen by the author as the most extreme of his novels, and one that he wasn't able to read again for 20 years after completion. I have to say, I can understand why.

The novel gets into the head of an un
Jul 11, 2013 Beth rated it liked it
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
Dec 25, 2007 Sean rated it it was amazing
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.
Ryan Leone
Jul 21, 2014 Ryan Leone rated it it was amazing
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 depr
Beregond 3019
Dec 16, 2008 Beregond 3019 rated it really liked it
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
Tres Trece
Mar 19, 2016 Tres Trece rated it really liked it
Me alegro de haber leído esto hasta el final. Todo un logro si no tienes el estómago para imágenes violentas y súper gráficas de tortura y violación. Pero es otra perspectiva, otro estilo, otra escritura que es bueno conocer. La psicología del personaje es increíble. Ahora puedo imaginar qué es estar en la mente de un desquiciado, de un ser marginal, sociópata de principio a fin.
Nada de los horrores o asquerosidades de este texto le justifican (aunque lo intenta pobre y reiterativamente), aún a
Abimelech Abimelech
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
Nov 04, 2015 RB rated it it was amazing
Provocative and rich in mental anguish, Selby's second book can be forgiven for essentially being one long rant on the state of law enforcement and the system that allows the inherent cruelty, bigotry, and sadism to flourish without punishment. More to come . . .
Apr 07, 2013 Rafa rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Violencia en estado puro sin una gota de valor literario. Es a la literatura lo que el porno al cine.
Jun 30, 2007 Rebecca rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2007
Best. Writer. Ever.
Oct 28, 2010 Zee rated it liked it
Shelves: booksread2010
'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
Nov 26, 2013 Flami rated it it was amazing
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
Daniel Parks
May 10, 2012 Daniel Parks rated it it was amazing
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
Mar 11, 2009 Eli rated it liked it
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
Apr 25, 2013 Offuscatio rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
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.
Mar 14, 2015 Doc rated it it was amazing
A man in a cell. Not for everyone. Not for most. Wrenching. Disturbing disgusting. A haunting story that stays with you. Different than Selby's others but similar. I found this book unforgettable.
Oct 01, 2012 Ugh rated it it was ok
My girfriend bought me this as a present because she thought a friend of hers had recommended it. It turned out she'd misunderstood...

The friend had apparently said The Room was like American Psycho but without the humour, and I suppose in a way it is. In fact it's perhaps even more depraved than American Psycho, but for many reasons it's also nowhere near as good.

The vast majority of the book comprises the immature fantasies of a jailed American kid who's been badly screwed up by some combinati
Jun 27, 2012 Rozzer rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: america, reviewed, fiction
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
Katie John
Apr 10, 2012 Katie John rated it really liked it
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
Diana Ford
Oct 23, 2014 Diana Ford rated it it was ok
Not that impressed. I know he is highly acclaimed and feel perhaps I should read something else of his to see if it's just me. A lot of people marked this as horrific or shockingly disturbing, and I suppose it probably was at time of release. I won’t recommend it to anyone with a weak stomach (involves some descriptive torture - some physical, some sexual, mostly psychological) but it was fairly tame compared to a lot of stuff that’s out there. The surrounding narrative was presented in an inter ...more
Feb 18, 2012 Daniel rated it it was amazing
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
Dimitrios Otis
Feb 11, 2016 Dimitrios Otis rated it it was amazing
This book most likely still stands as the epitome of extreme, in terms of twisted, warped imaginings, pushing the envelope, offending morals and decency. I think everyone interested in this type of literature should read this to know the bottom line - rather than in their own lame way try to push the boundaries themselves. This IS the boundary! Read it and know - then you can orient your own contribution around this.
I should add the author is not trying to offend, he is merely plumbing the depth
Dani Kass
This book was a masterpiece. A sick, twisted, puke-inducing, gut-wrenching masterpiece. At the same time I want to never see this book again (although I know I will in my nightmares) and I want to start it again right away.
Boris Abrams
Jul 27, 2015 Boris Abrams rated it it was amazing
This book genuinely sickened me. It good into my head and made me shiver. It haunted me. This is not a 'good' book. It is not 'well written'. It is raw, cutting, painful. That a book can be so hard hitting and real, I give it 5*s. Read with caution.
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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
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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.” 14 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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