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Requiem for a Dream

4.10  ·  Rating details ·  57,617 ratings  ·  1,506 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
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 invo…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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Jul 04, 2014 rated it really liked it
First published in 1978, seven years after the start of the War on Drugs, Requiem for a Dream tracks the course of four lives as they’re destroyed by addiction. The novel is written in the stream-of-consciousness mode, but far from the eloquent formalism of modernists like Woolf or the rambling spontaneity of the less talented Beat writers, Selby’s prose reads as frenetic, tense, and unsettling. His characters’ thoughts become increasingly repetitive and distorted as they succumb to opioid addic ...more
MAN. That's some fucked up shit, right there. I have so much to say that I don't know where to begin. I've seen the movie, I knew what to expect - but I still feel a deep sadness, revulsion, and shock after finishing the book. It's just... traumatizing. Brilliant, but traumatizing.

I'll say now that if you're concerned about spoilers - just move on. I cannot avoid spoilers in this one... so continue reading if you want, but don't bitch if you get spoiled on the book or movie.

It's been years since
K.D. Absolutely
Sep 23, 2010 rated it really liked it
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,
Jul 16, 2008 rated it did not like it
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
Ahmad Sharabiani
Requiem for a Dream, Hubert Selby Jr.

Requiem for a Dream is a 1978 novel by American writer Hubert Selby Jr.

This story follows the lives of Sara Goldfarb, her son Harry, his girlfriend Marion Silver, and his best friend Tyrone C. Love, who are all searching for the key to their dreams in their own ways.

In the process, they fall into devastating lives of addiction. Harry and Marion are in love and want to open their own business; their friend Tyrone wants to escape life in the ghetto.

To achiev
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: merkins, novels
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 W
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
Steven Godin
Dec 18, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition

When I first watched the film back in 2001 it was at a time when I didn't really read that much. I thought about reading the novel, but didn't. When I did finally pick it up, back around 2010, it became a sort of turning point for me. I just assumed it was written in the late 90s, and got a big surprise when I learnt it was in fact the late 70s. Reading it again now its lost none of its youthful energy; its punchy grittiness; its gut-wrenching power: the last third in particular still held me in
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 pawnshop 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 pawnshop owner has a book to record the tran ...more
Jan 03, 2009 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction, 2009
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
Dec 28, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: reviewed
There is nothing warm and fuzzy about this book. In fact, every time you pick it up to read it and set it back down, you will feel like you dropped your ice cream cone in the sand.
It's torture. It's hell. And it's about as real as a novel can get.
This book tells the story of three friends and their pursuit of the American dream. It also includes the story of the mother of one of the characters. They are all addicts. The friends are addicted to heroin and cocaine and mom is addicted to prescrip
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
Marie Antoinette
“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, 'cause, it needs time to be digested.

You need the time to cry and mourn for the lives of these characters, is sad and heartbreaking, and it will make you wonder what are you doing reading this in the first place.

Requiem for a
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
Jan 16, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I don’t know why I was rooting for the characters in this book. I knew deep down, in true Selby style, they’d be stripped to nothing, one by one. Totally on the edge of my seat the whole time. So sad but so full of character.
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
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.


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
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
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
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...
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
Apr 25, 2015 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
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
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
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, ,addi ...more
Ananya (~on a semi-hiatus~)
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
Nov 26, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A glimpse into Hell by one of my favorite authors, who I hadn't read in at least a decade. For as brutal as Selby's stories are, he writes from a place of deep empathy, love, and strong morality, and that's what makes his novels hit so hard. You can feel his heart breaking for the characters who inhabit the worlds he creates, which, sadly, closely reflect our own, whether you see it or not. ...more
May 15, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
You know why Nixon's "War on Drugs" never really worked? Because the substance it tried to keep off the streets is an integral part of the American Dream: Addiction; always wanting more, more, more. That, really, is what this book's about.

Requiem for a Dream starts with two principal addictions converging, as Harry Goldfarb hauls his mother Sara's TV set over to a pawn shop so he can buy some heroin. Sara has her own addictions; every time her TV is sold, she buys it ⁠— her whole life ⁠— righ
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
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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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