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The Room: A Novel

3.68  ·  Rating details ·  2,736 Ratings  ·  150 Reviews
“A terrifying journey into the darkest corners of the psyche” by the author of Requiem for a Dream and Last Exit to Brooklyn (The Guardian).

A small-time criminal sits alone in his cell, his mind reeling with sadistic thoughts of retribution against the police and, eventually, all those he believes have failed him throughout his life. A deeply disturbing exploration of a c
ebook, 288 pages
Published December 13th 2011 by Open Road Media (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
Oct 18, 2007 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
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
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
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
May 09, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Nov 22, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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 my GR friends reading 'Last Exit to Brooklyn'. I started with this one simply because 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
Jul 06, 2013 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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 18, 2007 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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.
Imane Bouhrachi
This is a one disturbing piece of work, most fucked up novel i've ever read
Apr 30, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Beregond 3019
Dec 16, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Ryan Leone
Apr 19, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Tres Trece
Dec 27, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
J.W.D. Nicolello
Feb 18, 2012 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
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
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 . . .
Jun 30, 2007 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2007
Best. Writer. Ever.
Apr 01, 2013 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.
Jul 14, 2010 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Sean Rees
Aug 21, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The Room takes place in a single battleship grey cell, in which the nameless narrator is confined. Through his rambling monologue he proclaims innocence, yet the twistedness of the fantasies in which he indulges, in all their gruesome details, begin to sow the seeds of doubt. Can we trust a man whose violent dado-sexual fantasies cause us to recoil in horror?
So violent and horrific are the visions in fact, that I was greatly tempted to give this book 1 star. A search on the net found reviews hol
Rebecca McNutt
The Room is deeply disturbing, but in the kind of way that makes you think about all the little things most people take for granted. For the main character, his own sanity is compromised by claustrophobia and isolation.
Daniel Parks
May 08, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Jun 04, 2008 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Kyriakos Sorokkou
Jun 12, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I was reading this haunting book on my way to London in 2014. I was on a bus and I was looking out the window while reading the book and so the New-York suburbs in the book became London suburbs, but the story didn't change and it was indeed a disgusting, perverted story about a condemned man and his paranoiac ravings in prison, his past, his present, his future, full with nauseating scenes, sexy scenes, all one splotch of hate in this book. I feel guilty to say I enjoyed it but I did, and I als ...more
Dani Kass
Dec 29, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: own
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.
Mar 31, 2013 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 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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.
Sep 30, 2012 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
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 12, 2012 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 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
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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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