Last Exit to Brooklyn
“An extraordinary achievement . . . a vision of hell so stern it cannot be chuckled or raged aside.”—The New York Times Book Review
A classic of postwar American literature, Last Exit to Brooklyn created shockwaves upon its release in 1964 with its raw, vibrant language and startling revelations of New York City's underbelly.
The prostitutes, drunks, addicts, and johns o...more
I can hear from my window some kind of requiem suddenly coming on...
The pomposity of the literary establishment in the 1960’s was as bad as it ever has been. I can recall my encounter, as a twenty year old, with Last Exit. But before I bought it, I got a copy of the New York Times review. ‘Another Grove Press porno piece,’ or something roughly equivalent is what I remember. So I ignored the book for the next 50 years. A big mistake, only to be excused by lack of experience. As Sam Goldwyn put it: “Don’t pay any attention to the critics; don’t ev ...more
Thematically it’s an assault.
Stylistically it’s an assault.
Emotionally it’s an assault.
So reading Last Exit to Brooklyn and enjoying it, like I very much did, could be akin to a kind of literary Stockholm syndrome.
Less a novel and more a collection of vignettes, Selby Jr.’s first major work is a dark, depressing, visceral, gruff, and scroungy account of the lives of some of the most depraved and tragic characters this side of Shakespeare. Perhaps the most famous book t ...more
As I was rereading I was struck by the parallels with Trainspotting (1993): both in the depiction of street life and the extensive use of an unpunctuated vernacular. What Last Exit to Brooklyn l ...more
Selby's editor on this book was Gilbert Sorrentino, who helped Selby refine his extraordinarily precise style, his pitch-perfect dia ...more
Hubert Selby, Jr. (1928-2004) wrote like no other or maybe I have not encountered those "others" yet. I have encountered Saramago's and Garcia Marquez's novels with practically no punctuation marks. Selby's had some but he substituted apostrophes with forward slashes "/". According to Wiki, Selby's reason for this was the symbol's proximity to his typewriter, thus allowi ...more
Grabbed this from my stash Saturday evening and started blazing through it, rapt! Could not put it down. Finished Sunday...
Uncompromising portrait of petty slothfulness and violence in grim Brooklyn in the 1950s. The 1989 Jennifer Jason Leigh film was fine and disturbing, but it can't capture the earnest immediacy of this book and the machine-gun style of expression of the colloquialisms and the stream of consciousness. This is masterly, it seems to have flowed off Selby's ...more
And the thing is that Selby is such a terrific observer of people, and he has this wonderful sympathy for them, so he gets you inside even the most loathsome of chara ...more
After reading the inside of the box for the film, "Requiem for a Dream", I was compelled to find this book that Darren Aronofsky, the director, adored so much. He was from Brooklyn, and the Brooklyn that is described here, so it certainly has much more meaning for ...more
I'm wondering why I've not read this before now. Looking forward to reading more of his work.
In some intervie ...more
The book is structured into parts that are introduced with a verse from the Bible and the contents are anything but moral; in a way they are, as it showcases the frailty of mortality an ...more
One thing I remember about this book was that the explicit spelling out of gruff, blue collar, New Yawk accents (kind of like the NYC equivalent to the way that Mark Twain captured thick southern accents in Huck Finn, etc) was so grating and constant that I literally was hallucinating (mildly) that everyone around me (in northeast Illinois) was speaking with these accents after setting down the bo ...more
Unfortunately this book wasn’t what I excepted it to be, I usually like old books written in the 50s or 60s I like to read them to see how life was back then, picking this up I expected to get a perspective of how it was like to be transgender/gay/drug-addict/prostitute in New York during the 50s but what S ...more
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