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Requiem for a Dream

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4.11  ·  Rating details ·  42,747 Ratings  ·  1,010 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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George Mitton Yes. Although you know the plot in advance (the film is a fairly faithful adaptation), the sense of impending tragedy is, in my view, more intense in…moreYes. Although you know the plot in advance (the film is a fairly faithful adaptation), the sense of impending tragedy is, in my view, more intense in the novel than in the film. There is a claustrophobic horror to the novel that the film only partially captures.(less)
KT I'd actually recommend the other way around. The book has a very unique writing style that makes you feel immersed in the story. It gets you very…moreI'd actually recommend the other way around. The book has a very unique writing style that makes you feel immersed in the story. It gets you very involved in the book.
Don't get me wrong, the movie is great too. The book and movie kind of complete each other. But I would say start with the book.(less)

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Charles
Jul 16, 2008 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
...more
K.D. Absolutely
Sep 23, 2010 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,
...more
Becky
Jun 24, 2014 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
...more
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 25, 2012 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
Kelly
May 09, 2007 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
...more
Kandice
May 22, 2015 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
Lavinia
Jan 03, 2009 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
...more
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
...more
Kathryn
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
...more
Todd
Dec 06, 2012 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.

Premise

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
...more
Erin ☕ *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
...more
Marie Antoinette
Apr 18, 2015 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.”

Somehow after watching the movie the book is bearable but still pretty heartbreaking. It is a great book if you have the time to actually read it , it's not a book that can be read lightly.

This books has its ups and downs. My best advice is: If you don't like the first pages Odds are, you won't like it at all.

“Eventually we all have to accept full and total responsibili
...more
Laura Martinez
May 01, 2008 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
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
Anya
UPDATE "On acid stars you're getting there"-Hole

BAD MOVE.


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
...more
Stefani
Dec 09, 2008 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
Philippe Malzieu
Feb 28, 2014 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
...more
Arcadia
Apr 25, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
Wow.
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
...more
Arax Miltiadous
Jan 20, 2013 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
...more
Rita Meade
Mar 18, 2010 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
Hudson
Aug 21, 2013 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
...more
Patricia Nedelea
Aug 03, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Another reading ruined for me by the movie... I could even hear the soundtrack while reading!
Thought it would be unfair to give it less than 5stars just because I saw the movie first...
Steve
Mar 27, 2013 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
...more
Perry Gough
Dec 06, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: modern-classics
This is a true modern classic, an amazing story on drug addiction told from different angles an how it effects them all different. This is a very harrowing read, it takes you down a dark journey and although alot of the characters have unlikeable characteristics you cant help but feel devasted for them and the pain they feel on their journey.

One in particualr, Marion and her journey is just soul destroying and shows how vunerable some people are. I did watch the film before reading the book (whi
...more
Jennifer (JC-S)
Sep 11, 2013 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
...more
Sara
Jan 06, 2008 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
James
This is a book about people buried in misery and addiction. The first scene describes a junkie son struggling to steal his mothers television to pawn it for a fix. It's all too miserable for words from then on. I gave up, unfairly for sure as the writing demanded more than I could give. In part the ground selby covers has been subsequently covered by so many writers that the book loses the pioneering shock it once must have had. Miserable.
Annie
Jan 07, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: let-s-get-high
I was very excited, on reading the foreword to Requiem for a Dream, that the foreword's author, Richard Price, understands Selby in the same way I do. My review of Last Exit to Brooklyn says almost verbatim what Price does here: "Selby possess and projects on every page of every book he has written: Love- a forgiveness and compassion that elevate all the bottom dogs that populate his world. His art is his ability to humanize the seemingly inhuman, and by extension to humanize the reader... At hi ...more
Chantal
Wow.

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
...more
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1,010 followers
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.
“Eventually we all have to accept full and total responsibility for our actions, everything we have done, and have not done. ” 349 likes
“But you cant shut everyone out. I mean you have to have someone to love. . .someone to hold on to. . . someone--” 244 likes
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