Reading 1001 discussion

25 views
Past BOTM discussions > Requiem for a Dream - Selby Jr - Chinook

Comments Showing 1-44 of 44 (44 new)    post a comment »
dateDown arrow    newest »

message 1: by Kristel (new)

Kristel (kristelh) | 4259 comments Mod
Requiem for a Dream Hubert Selby Jr. published in 1978.


message 2: by Chinook (new)

Chinook | 282 comments Pre-Reading Questions:

1. Last Exit to Brooklyn and Requiem for a Dream were both made into movies well known in their own right. Have you seen either of them?

2. In 1967, Last Exit to Brooklyn was prosecuted for obscenity in Great Britain, though the jury's conviction was later reversed on appeal. The novel was banned in Italy. Do you pay attention to bans and challenges on literature?

3. In 1971, Selby published his second novel, The Room. Selby described The Room as "the most disturbing book ever written." He said he could not read it for decades after writing it. Some say it’s his masterpiece. Have you read or heard of this work by Shelby?

4. Selby pays little to no regard to writing conventions such as grammar, spelling or punctuation. Paragraphs often continue on for several pages with multiple speakers, but no quotation marks or attributions indicating who is saying what. Have you read other books like this? Do you enjoy this writing style?

5. Last Exit to Brooklyn and Requiem for a Dream are described as brutal, gritty, violent. How do you feel about violence in novels?

I found an interesting video on the book here:

http://www.open.edu/openlearn/history...


message 3: by Chinook (new)

Chinook | 282 comments Last month I posted questions throughout the month - I thought it might make for better discussion, but as a reader I found that though I had insights as I made up the questions right after finishing, I’d sort of forgotten what I’d wanted to say by the end of the month. Instead this month I researched some questions in advance of reading and I’ll leave them here under a spoiler tag.


After Reading:

(view spoiler)


message 4: by Chinook (new)

Chinook | 282 comments I don’t have the copy of 1001 from the year his was included in he list. If anyone has that copy, I’d be curious to hear what they say about why it was included. It seems that some think this wasn’t his absolute best work, so I’m curious about what got it on the list.


message 5: by Kristel (new)

Kristel (kristelh) | 4259 comments Mod
I don't have that edition of the book either . The premise of the editors for 1001 Books is that they included books that contributed to the development of the novel not necessarily the best book by an author. I wonder...was this the first book to be written in the style of no punctuation, grammar, spelling, multiple speakers? It certainly isn't the first book written about drugs.


message 6: by Diane (new)

Diane  | 2051 comments 1. Last Exit to Brooklyn and Requiem for a Dream were both made into movies well known in their own right. Have you seen either of them?

No.

2. In 1967, Last Exit to Brooklyn was prosecuted for obscenity in Great Britain, though the jury's conviction was later reversed on appeal. The novel was banned in Italy. Do you pay attention to bans and challenges on literature?

I don't, but I am usually surprised when I learn that a book I have read has been banned/challenged. Most banned books I have read are actually quite tame.

3. In 1971, Selby published his second novel, The Room. Selby described The Room as "the most disturbing book ever written." He said he could not read it for decades after writing it. Some say it’s his masterpiece. Have you read or heard of this work by Shelby?

No, I haven't.

4. Selby pays little to no regard to writing conventions such as grammar, spelling or punctuation. Paragraphs often continue on for several pages with multiple speakers, but no quotation marks or attributions indicating who is saying what. Have you read other books like this? Do you enjoy this writing style?

It seems like I have written a lot of books like this lately. One of the more recent ones is Autumn of the Patriarch. I don't care for this writing style, typically. It has worked on a few books, though.

5. Last Exit to Brooklyn and Requiem for a Dream are described as brutal, gritty, violent. How do you feel about violence in novels?

Not really a fan, but I can usually tolerate it if it isn't gratuitous.


message 7: by Pip (new)

Pip | 1471 comments 1. No, I haven't seen either of them I don't think that I have ever heard of Requiem for a Dream, but Last Exit to Brooklyn sounds familiar.
2. When I was young it was a great thrill to read Lady Chatterley's Lover just because it had been banned. Salman Rushdie having had a fatwah placed on him did not motivate me to read The Satanic Verses!
3. Was it made into a movie quite recently? I have heard of the movie but don't know if it was based on Shelby's book. I had actually not heard of Shelby before his book was chosen.
I do quite like his style because it forces the reader to pay close attention. I have read other books like this but can't remember them at this moment.
4. It really depends how the violence is portrayed. I think it is easier to read about violence than to watch it in a movie or on the news.


message 8: by George P. (last edited Jul 11, 2018 07:13PM) (new)

George P. | 538 comments When I read the question about novels without punctuation etc, I thought of The Autumn of the Patriarch by Garcia Marquez, then read down farther and saw that Diane mentioned it. The Garcia Marquez book is more challenging to read than Requiem, as it has no paragraph or sentence endings at all. Reading Requiem would be good preparation for reading it. I checked and saw the Garcia Marquez book was published 3 years earlier- perhaps Selby had read it. His use of the / in place of the ' has annoyed me a bit but I/m used to it now :)
When the novel Last Exit to Brooklyn came out, my brother got a copy of it, and I remember reading some parts of it. I would have been about 12 years old and I still remember a very violent scene I read which put me off reading any more of it, so I don't think I was quite mature enough for it.
I've never seen the film of Last Exit, but did watch the film of Requiem maybe 10 years ago and I particularly remember Ellen Burstyn's excellent performance. The critic reviews of both films are generally positive, somewhat more so for Requiem- Roger Ebert rated it 3.5 stars out of 4. The Rotten Tomatoes summary of the Requiem film said : Critics Consensus: Though the movie may be too intense for some to stomach, the wonderful performances and the bleak imagery are hard to forget".
I haven't heard anything about the novel The Room as far as I remember.
Knowing that a novel had been banned in the old days would tend to get my attention, but it wouldn't be enough to get me to read it by itself.
I'm now about 60% through reading Requiem and have generally liked it. I think the descriptions of the influences of the drugs on the characters are very well-done, they let you get into their skin for a few minutes. I just know things aren't going to turn out well for the doper son.


message 9: by Pip (new)

Pip | 1471 comments 1. Television is seen as a comfort. Sara, Harry and Marion all use it as a soporific. I was reflecting how television used to be the main entertainment for many people and how that has changed. Selby used it as a vehicle for showing how addicts increasingly become unable to concentrate or even to sit still.


message 10: by Pip (new)

Pip | 1471 comments 2. Harry and Tyrone remain good friends despite their addiction causing them to hide some of their stash from each other. Tyrone stayed with Harry in the clinic although he knew the situation was dangerous, which indeed downfall situation for him!
3. If a black and a white man are friends then inevitably race is raised as an issue. It seems almost ridiculous that two men could be arrested because they were friends and one was black and the other white but I know such things have happened. I didn't realise the Southern prejudice against Northerners still persists and found that part of the book hard to read.


message 11: by Pip (new)

Pip | 1471 comments 4. I am adding my notes separately as I am doing this on my phone and have just lost my answer to question 4! The similarities in their addictions were that they denied what was happening to them, were almost wilfully lacking in self awareness, were obsessed with an unattainable dream and did not seek help. Sara loved Harry but she was spectacularly lacking in any desire to help him and vice versa. Harry loved Marion but he wanted drugs more than he wanted to protect her. So love is portrayed as being a passive rather than an active emotion.
6. Marion is a passive compliant character who endures degradation for her habit.
7. I found reading how the characters spiralled into addiction both horrifying and mesmerising. I kept willing them to do something proactive to help themselves but their circle of friendships and family were too weak to be useful.


message 12: by Gail (new)

Gail (gailifer) | 1526 comments I am about half way through the book now.
I had not read Last Exit to Brooklyn or any other Shelby Jr. work until I started this book. I do pay attention to awards but usually not bans.
4) I can not recall exactly this writing style with the shifts in dream/reality without warning and the endless flow without punctuation but it is not irritating in any way. I am finding it a good way of telling what is happening in the minds of the characters.
5) I do not usually appreciate violence in a book even if it works for the story. However, I understand why an author would use violence and I am willing to read through it if it is crucial and not gratuitous. I do find myself wanting to skip parts and really have to bare down to make it through. The reading equivalent of closing your eyes during the violent part of films.


message 13: by Gail (new)

Gail (gailifer) | 1526 comments Spoiler Warning - do not read if you have not finished the book

1. Television is a key element in the novel, especially at the closing. What does it represent for each character?
Television was not just an escape, it was a way to pass the time while viewing a potential of a life better than the life they were able to envision for themselves. For Sara, it was in some ways her only connection to any life at all. For the other 4 it was just a way to be away from the hassles but eventually it just became another hum in the background that helped them pass the time until their next taste. Although I thought Sara's story the saddest of the group it was more difficult for me to understand from what Selby wrote. I understand all the data (sadness, loneliness, old age, wanting to shine one more time in life, addiction, mental health disorders, a health care system gone horribly wrong) but I did not think her character as well written as the others and found that it fell into some strong stereotypes at times.

2. Looking at the relationship between Harry and Tyrone, is their friendship their downfall or did it have the power to save them from their fates?
I think the answer is both. I think they actually had a very strong friendship and if one of them had been able to break the cycle even a bit they might have both been saved but the truth of the matter is that the habit is overwhelming and it overwhelmed their friendship also. They leaned on each other to justify another taste, another day of hustling, another day wasted.

3. Why are issues of race explored in the novel? Is race simply used as a tool to reiterate the setting and tone of these times?
I felt that Selby used the race issue to make even more resounding clear how trapped Tyrone was.

4. What are the common threads in Harry and Sara’s addictions?
They both believe that they are aiming at a plan that will elevate them above their problems. Harry in particular believes at first that he can have a real rich life having a business and traveling with Marion. The dope, at first, is just an means to an end, plus a spot of pure pleasure. Sara parallels this somewhat with her need to fit into a dress that represented the pinnacle of her life's pleasures. However, unlike Harry she is more than naive about the danger of the medicine she was taking. Harry was naive also but he was willfully so as he had every opportunity to see what heroin does to people.

5. Is love a concrete theme in the storyline? How do each of the characters define love and do any of them experience it? Yes, I think love was laced through the story. I think that Sara truly loved her late husband and attempted to love some fiction that was her son in her own mind. Harry and Marion had a fluttering moment of love and even Harry and Tyrone had something more than a simple friendship to begin. All of them slowly turned to loving only the way they felt after they had their taste.

6. Marion is a contradictory and complex character. Determine when she displays her truest nature.

Marion's truest nature was undermined by the drug habit like all the other character's. Her family clearly wasn't very present in her life and she didn't turn to them for anything other than money. I felt the worst for her when she made the decision to degrade herself and have sex not for the three of them's habit but for her own stash. She so desperately wanted to be secure in having her own dope that she would do anything and she threw all her love, friendships and dignity away (and no doubt her looks also).

7. Friendship and love could have saved all of the main characters - do you think that’s true or false? (hide spoiler)]

No, I do not think that is true. I think the habit destroys friendships and love and I think the culture that supports and allows this drug culture to thrive (America then/ America now?) was one in which there was no secure place to go to get that feeling of being truly safe and free to pursue a dream. There was no where for any of them to turn that would both understand the nature of their dope need and still see them as human beings.

I did find that the book lost a certain amount of tension around the middle and picked up a different kind of tension. During the first half I wanted them so badly to find a way to break the cycle. By the middle, the tension was more like watching a car wreck. You don't want to look but you can't take your eyes off it. I knew by the middle of the book that it was all down hill from there. After I finished the book I just stared out the window for the longest time.


message 14: by Diane (new)

Diane  | 2051 comments The lack of quotation marks and apostrophes is annoying me. It makes it difficult to discern who is speaking. This would be a great one on audiobook.


message 15: by Diane (last edited Jul 11, 2018 02:23PM) (new)

Diane  | 2051 comments 1. Television is a key element in the novel, especially at the closing. What does it represent for each character?

Harry & Tyrone - Pawning Sara's TV was a way for them to get money for drugs.
Harry - Buying his mother a new TV represented a sort of peace offering for taking the old one and a way to indicate to her that he is now successful. He feels he can never please his mother, and this token of his success will help do just that.
Sara - TV is an obsession with Sara - it was her original addiciton. The TV was essentially a substitute life for her and a companion in her solitude and a way to escape the monotony of her life. The prospective opportunity to appear on TV signified a way for her life to become meaningful again.


2. Looking at the relationship between Harry and Tyrone, is their friendship their downfall or did it have the power to save them from their fates?

Their friendship could have been their salvation, but became their downfall instead. Neither was strong enough to stop the cycle of addiction and intervene for the other. Tyrone encouraged the idea of selling drugs which was part of the downfall. Marion encouraged drug use and acted as a catalyst to Harry's addiction, which caused Harry and Tyrone to continue to deal. It might have been different without her in the mix.

3. Why are issues of race explored in the novel? Is race simply used as a tool to reiterate the setting and tone of these times?

I don't think it was only used for the setting, even though the 70s were tumultuous times for race relations. Race presented an additional complicating factor throughout the book, especially in the end when they are in the South.

4. What are the common threads in Harry and Sara’s addictions?

They were both striving for a better life that seemed just out of reach. The drugs provided an avenue with which to pursue their dreams. He had his dreams of success and building a life with Marion. Sara had dreams of a more meaningful life made possible by becoming thin enough to fit into the red dress and appearing on TV. They both were very naive and were in denial as to was happening to them and didn't know when to stop. Both were essentially dehumanized in the end, experiencing both physical and mental deterioration.

5. Is love a concrete theme in the storyline? How do each of the characters define love and do any of them experience it?

They all demonstrated love in their own ways, but their love for one another was not enough to overcome their spirals into addiction. Sara and Harry loved each other, but their relationship was strained. Harry had little patience when it came to his mother. He felt that she was difficult and hard to please, and she had an unrealistic view of who he really was. Harry and Marion's relationship was in large part based upon drugs. The love of drugs was stronger than their love for each other. Harry and Tyrone had a friendship type of love. Tyrone really loved his mother and longed to get off the streets and make something out of his life that would have made her proud. Unfortunately, they all loved the effects of the drugs they consumed more than anything else.

6. Marion is a contradictory and complex character. Determine when she displays her truest nature.

Marion was very co-dependent. She didn't have a strong relationship with her emotionally-detached family. She lacked a positive self-concept. Drugs helped her feel better about herself initially, but what she had to do to get them paradoxically made her self-concept worse.

7. Friendship and love could have saved all of the main characters - do you think that’s true or false?

I think so to a certain extent, at least in the beginning of the cycle. Stronger relationships would have made them more resilient and cognizant of what was happening to one another. After a certain point friendship and love really didn't make much difference anymore because the drugs had taken over.


message 16: by Chinook (new)

Chinook | 282 comments 1. I haven’t seen either of the movies. If I like the book, I may seek them out.

2. I usually try to read a banned book for Banned Book Week each year.

3. The Toom was the only of his major works I hadn’t heard of. I’m really curious now.

4. Even if I like a book overall, I never when authors play with basic writing conventions.

5. I hope I have more tolerance for violence in books that on TV or in movies, I definitely have a major response to anything too graphically violent or gory.


message 17: by Anita (new)

Anita Pomerantz | 166 comments I am only about 20% in so far, so only tackling the pre-reading question at this point.

1. I haven't seen either movie, and at this point, I'm having a hard time even picturing this book as a movie. But, ahem, Jared Leto? I'll give it a shot.

2. I would say that seeing that a book is banned would increase my interest in it - - but honestly, I can't fathom how books even get banned in the first place.

3. I plead ignorance. I haven't heard of the Room. Nor Selby for that matter until now.

4. No or limited punctuation doesn't bother me as a general rule. I like experimental writing. One of the Man Booker nominees last year had NO punctuation, and I loved it. But somehow, this writing all runs together in a way that feels kinda boring to me. I think I would feel the same even if there was punctuation so I'm not blaming it on that.

5. I am a fan of the dark novel in general, so bring it on.


Kelly_Hunsaker_reads ... | 894 comments 1. I haven't seen the movies, and am not too interested. I don't do well with weird and dark movies. I carry them around for too long after they end.

2.I don't understand banning books, and I don't think it changes my interest.

3. I haven't read anything before now. In fact, I hadn't heard of him or of the books.

4. I am not a big fan of experimental writing. I like punctuation. I am old and my brain doesn't function well without it. :)

5. I don't mind the violence or the darkness. Sometimes it is something that adds to my positive response. BUT, I want it to be dark emotionally and not gory.


Kelly_Hunsaker_reads ... | 894 comments 1. Television is a key element in the novel, especially at the closing. What does it represent for each character?

Television was not just an escape, it was a reward at times. It was a babysitter (for adults). And for Sara, it was life. As someone else said it seemed to be her first addiction. I somewhat get it as I am disabled and often housebound -- tv and audio books are my friends. They keep me company and allow me not to feel as lonely. But these young people are addicts and TV feeds the addictions.


2. Looking at the relationship between Harry and Tyrone, is their friendship their downfall or did it have the power to save them from their fates?

I think it could have saved them if they had been strong and motivated. Instead it fed the cycle of addiction and was their downfall.

3. Why are issues of race explored in the novel? Is race simply used as a tool to reiterate the setting and tone of these times?

It was just one more factor that kept them trapped.

4. What are the common threads in Harry and Sara’s addictions?

They both believe that the drugs will help them achieve their dreams. They felt it would lift them. Unfortunately they were doing the opposite.

5. Is love a concrete theme in the storyline? How do each of the characters define love and do any of them experience it?

I believe that they all loved one another. Unfortunately the drugs were stronger. The addiction was stronger. They couldn't use the love to get themselves out of the spiral.

6. Marion is a contradictory and complex character. Determine when she displays her truest nature.

I don't know that I saw her truest self. But the truest aspect of her self on drugs showed her as a woman who was desperate for security. And to her security was owning her own stash of drugs. It was so important that she sold herself just to get that stash.

7. Friendship and love could have saved all of the main characters - do you think that’s true or false?

I think it is always true... but it takes work just like everything in life that is worthwhile. These people weren't able to lift themselves or each other.


message 20: by George P. (new)

George P. | 538 comments Very astute comments Kelly, thanks for them.


Kelly_Hunsaker_reads ... | 894 comments George wrote: "Very astute comments Kelly, thanks for them."

Well, thanks for that... not sure it is true though. This book overwhelmed me a bit. Not because it was difficult to understand but because it was so emotionally devastating.


message 22: by Tracy (last edited Jul 21, 2018 08:28PM) (new)

Tracy (tstan) | 559 comments Prereading questions:
1. I haven't seen either of the films, but I do want to see Requiem for a Dream now.
2. I don't tend to pay much attention to what books have been banned- I'm often surprised when I see what has been considered obscene.
3. I hadn't heard of it before now. Requiem is pretty disturbing already!
4. The punctuation, or lack thereof, bothered me at first, but I found myself not even thinking about it as I got immersed in the story.
5. As long as the violence isn't gratuitous or overly graphic, I can usually handle it. I read way too much Stephen King in high school, I think...

Post reading questions:
1. TV is everything to Sara- it's her replacement for her lost husband and her grown son. To Harry, it was a tool to get money initially, then a symbol of love for his mom. As Sara's addictions worsen, TV becomes her master. Marion seems to be the Baby Boomer who was raised by the TV, with the belief that quick fixes and happy endings are real.
2. Their friendship was complicated. I think they would have been friends despite their addictions- they seemed to get along well, and had a good rapport. Unfortunately, addiction took over, and their friendship became all about scoring. If only one of them could have awakened from the haze, I think they could have helped each other recover.
3. Since both Tyrone and Harry were marginalized, their friendship was enhanced because of it. Until there were police involved, they seemed to be equals.
4. I can't say this any better than Diane did above.
5. There was love: Sara loved her son, Harry loved his mother, but both were headstrong. Marion and Harry's love was when they were high. I think the strongest love was Harry and Tyrone's friendship. It's too bad that their addictions were stronger.
6. Honestly, I wasn't a fan of Marion at first. I think she and Harry fed each others' addictions. Marion seemed to be searching for a quick happiness- like she believed the TV commercials and sitcoms that made everything perfect in the end- or that a doctor could cure everything with a pill. Sara seemed to have this problem, too.
7. In its throes, addiction>love. Love can overcome addiction, but it takes serious conviction from all parties. I don't know that any of them were ready to stop yet. My hope is that when Harry and Tyrone are released, they will be clean and ready to start a new life. Maybe become counselors, and help Marion get clean.


message 23: by Kristel (new)

Kristel (kristelh) | 4259 comments Mod
Pre reading, actually I am 1/2 way
1. I have not seen any of the movies.
2. I do not pay attention to bans. Most of the time they are rather aribitary. I do avoid reading obscene literature to some extent though that is getting harder and harder to do these days.
3. I’ve not heard of any of Shelby’s books. I should have them as they were being published during a time when I was doing a lot of reading, just not anything by this author.
4. I have read other books that don’t use punctuation, etc. This book is okay, I can read it but it isn’t always clear who is the person who is speaking. I don’t necessarily enjoy it.
5. Violence can be hard to tolerate. I can read it better than watch it in a movie or TV show.


message 24: by Anita (new)

Anita Pomerantz | 166 comments 3 stars

This is a great book if you want to get inside the drug addled minds of addicts. Can't say I personally found that an enjoyable experience. The first half was especially dull, but it certainly set the stage for the most spectacular demise of four characters I've ever seen in literature.

(view spoiler)

I love a good dark book, but this one oddly starts off pretty dull, in part because the heroin addict sections are written in a style meant to evoke a brain on drugs. It takes a bit of time to get used to the style, and while I admire the effort, it's really not very interesting to read what is essentially narrated garbled thoughts for pages on end.

The latter half is much better in the sense of it being like a car accident - - you can't look away even though it is just horrific. Honestly, this book should be used in high schools with freshmen . . .there's basically no way anyone would ever do drugs of any kind after reading it. That's really the best aspect; Selby does an amazing job of communicating the lack of control and agency left to these human beings once the addiction fully seizes them.

The intro to the book indicates this book is about the dangers of the American dream . . .oddly, I didn't get that message from it even though I was actively looking.


message 25: by Anita (new)

Anita Pomerantz | 166 comments The post reading questions seem unduly optimistic to me, lol. They focus on whether love or friendship could have saved any of these characters, and I see absolutely no evidence that's the case. These characters did seem to care for and love one another to some degree, but their addictions far superceded any emotional attachments they may have had. It drove everything they did by the end. (view spoiler). Depressing.

I am interested to hear others thoughts on how this related to the American dream. The author intro in my book references it as though it is this terrible thing and the book is supposed to show that's the case. Is the presumption here that these characters were pursuing the American dream because they were dealing in hopes of getting rich enough to live a more normal existence?


message 26: by Gail (new)

Gail (gailifer) | 1526 comments TO ANITA: In regards the American dream, I had assumed that it referred to Sara’s dream of restored youth, fame and maybe even fortune if she could just get on a TV show and show the world how lovable she is. Like you, I felt that the others were not shackled by the American Dream. Although they dream of a prosperous life with their coffee shops, I didn’t think that that dream fed what subsequently happened to them...


message 27: by Tracy (new)

Tracy (tstan) | 559 comments Anita wrote: "The post reading questions seem unduly optimistic to me, lol. They focus on whether love or friendship could have saved any of these characters, and I see absolutely no evidence that's the case. Th..."

Is the American Dream that Selby means the promise that TV offers? A quick fix, a happy ending, perfect people? Instant gratification.
It seems like that time period was loaded with happy TV. Probably to mask the not good- the economy, aftermath of Vietnam, gas shortages, and drug crisis- this is when both cocaine and heroin were big.
All the characters seem to believe that promise of a quick solution, with minimal work. And addiction was certainly a quick fix, just not one to get them rich or loved.


message 28: by Anita (new)

Anita Pomerantz | 166 comments Thank you, Gail and Tracy, for chiming in on my query! What you are saying definitely makes sense - - that television creates a fantasy world and spurs desires that might not otherwise exist. To be honest, I wasn't really thinking about the time period, but in the context of that time, television was relatively new and brought the world and all its materialism into everyone's living rooms.

For some reason, I think of the American dream as aspirational, but not in a negative way - - more in the way of achieving enough financial security to be able to have some freedom of choice. But I see what you mean, Tracy, about the idea of a quick fix with little work . . .I guess for some people that might be the objective!

Great observations . . .helpful to me.


message 29: by Kristel (new)

Kristel (kristelh) | 4259 comments Mod
I see the American Dream to be the “quick fix”. Riches, fame, happiness, absence of loneliness, as the American Dream. Sometimes people want shortcuts. Youth is impatient.

I have these quotes written now;
“Life of loneliness, life of futility, life of being unncecssary”

“Nobody knows who they are. Everybody is running around looking for an identity or trying to borrow one. Only they don’t know it.”

I agree that Harry, Tyrone, Marion are looking for a life and money to achieve their dreams.

“Dope continues to flow through their blood whispering dreams to every living cell in their bodies.”

Some how, having these unrealistic expectations, futility, loneliness, leads to these people’s addictions. Sara is very much an addictive person, first to dependency in her r/t husband, then to food, and now to pills.


message 30: by Diane (last edited Jul 22, 2018 10:21AM) (new)

Diane  | 2051 comments Anita wrote: "Thank you, Gail and Tracy, for chiming in on my query! What you are saying definitely makes sense - - that television creates a fantasy world and spurs desires that might not otherwise exist. To be..."

I completely concur with Tracy and Gail. To add to that, I think there was a heightened pressure to attain that idealized dream and "keep up with the "Jones'es". Now the "Jones'es" weren't just your next door neighbors, but all those ideal families shown on TV who supposedly represented how the rest of the country was living. The media created additional pressure to be thin, be successful, and own material possessions and products that were advertised on TV. Having all of these things was the American Dream and according to the media, having these things meant happiness and fulfillment.


message 31: by Kristel (new)

Kristel (kristelh) | 4259 comments Mod
Diane wrote: "Anita wrote: "Thank you, Gail and Tracy, for chiming in on my query! What you are saying definitely makes sense - - that television creates a fantasy world and spurs desires that might not otherwis..."

Totally agree with Diane, the American Dream is what we see on TV. So Sara would be the main character with the American Dream. Even the dream of the perfect son. So the rest of the characters don’t really represent the American dream as much as Sara does.


message 32: by Tatjana (new)

Tatjana JP | 294 comments This was a truly disturbing but excellent book for me. I didn't watch the movie, but remember Jared Leto to be Harry - not the best choice I think.
Everybody is focused on the title - (American) dream, and so was I while reading. I share Tracy's and Gail's thoughts about easy getting something your dream of. But I was talking with my kids about the book, telling them how all characters in the book had a dream, but it was so difficult for all of them to try to work on them. Sara went to a doctor instead of dieting, Harry had a dream to open a cafe, but couldn't even begin focusing on his work. Marion was an artist, she was creative. Everybody had a dream (maybe American, because it seemed perfect) but nobody tried to get it. It is a scary story on addiction and how drugs can destroy family, talent, love and friendship. Addiction (to drugs, but also television in case of Sara) was stronger than any other thing. So sad and brutally realistic...
For me: perfect 5 stars.


message 33: by Kristel (new)

Kristel (kristelh) | 4259 comments Mod
I am finished now, this is my review. Don't read it if you haven't finished though really there should be no surprises.

I was surprised by this book. I ended up with an appreciation of it when I expected to dislike it. The book was written by Hubert Selby, Jr in 1978. It is a story that tells the story of four people living in the Bronx. Selby is an author who endeavors to attack the American dream and his book looks at life lived in urban poverty and addictions. It is a story of addictions; addictions to TV, addictions to food, addictions to drugs and the desire to achieve something but never getting there. Selby captures the spiral of degradation that these addictions bring to Sara the mother addicted to TV and food, her son Harry with a dream to have a coffee house, Tyrone C. Love, and their girlfriends. It explores loneliness, futility and being unnecessary. The author captures the downward spiral into madness. The story is a bit dated. Published in the late 70s, it depicts mental illness care as a pretty grim thing doing harm rather than helping. It depicts the animosity of the south toward blacks. It depicts the horrors of drug addiction but all that reality will hardly give pause to a person falling into the same demise and accurately displayed by the old man talking to Tyrone in jail. The addicts constantly tell themselves that it is "not me".

Quotes
"Nobody know who they are. Everybody is running around looking for an identitiy or trying to borrow one, only they don't know it."
"dope continues to flow through their blood, whispering dreams to every living cells int their bodies.".

Comments at the end of the book;
Selby experimented with grammar, punctuation, spelling, language.
The brutal urban landscapes he portrayed, combined with potent immediacy of his prose.
His frank descriptions of drugs, prostitution, and the rough Brooklyn streets that he (the author) had known since his childhood.

Selby also experienced addiction to first morphine then heroin


message 34: by Book (new)

Book Wormy | 2072 comments Mod
Chinook wrote: "I don’t have the copy of 1001 from the year his was included in he list. If anyone has that copy, I’d be curious to hear what they say about why it was included. It seems that some think this wasn’..."

I have the copy and reading between the lines they included it because of the tragic self destruction of the central characters and their inability to use their own senses to see how things will end.


message 35: by Book (new)

Book Wormy | 2072 comments Mod
(view spoiler)


message 36: by Book (new)

Book Wormy | 2072 comments Mod
This is a low 3 star book for me

I found the first half boring. It left me feeling like the only sober person at a party realising that what everyone else found so amusing was actually not amusing at all.

The second half was plain depressing but with a title like Requiem for a Dream what would you expect.

I think Selby Jr does a good job of showing the gritty side of life with addiction and the justifications addicts use. While I don't like the way the ending leaves no room for hope I can appreciate that this is probably a realistic portrayal of the situation at the time.


message 37: by Kristel (last edited Jul 25, 2018 01:11PM) (new)

Kristel (kristelh) | 4259 comments Mod
Book wrote: "This is a low 3 star book for me

I found the first half boring. It left me feeling like the only sober person at a party realising that what everyone else found so amusing was actually not amusing..."

I felt there was no hope for Sara. Only a very slight hope that Harry would survive with a major disability and I decided that Tyrone would get out of jail, Go back home, get a hold of his gf who was smart enough to get out of dodge and that they would live happy every after. (Pie in the sky, I know).

I was so sad for poor Sara. No one to fight for her, no one to come rescue her. If only Harry would have cared about his mother more but he didn't and her friends were powerless to help. Thankfully, mental health has had some major reform and improvement for patient rights.


message 38: by Diane (new)

Diane  | 2051 comments Kristel wrote: "Thankfully, mental health has had some major reform and improvement for patient rights.
"


Kristel, as a mental health nurse, have you seen any cases similar to those found in the book in real life?


message 39: by Kristel (last edited Jul 25, 2018 06:00PM) (new)

Kristel (kristelh) | 4259 comments Mod
Diane wrote: "Kristel wrote: "Thankfully, mental health has had some major reform and improvement for patient rights.
"

Kristel, as a mental health nurse, have you seen any cases similar to those found in the ..."


I tried to think about my earlier years in mental health. In 1971 we did do ECT and it wasn’t as refined as it is now. But we never did it to people not anesthetize. I wondered if the author was saying that even so, the person feels this treatment but he made it more horrible. I tried to imagine someone being admitted to psych ward and forced Thorazine and then ECT and force fed. I’ve seen anorexics force fed. That does happen and Sara sounds like she was in pretty bad condition nutritionally. Thorazine was the drug along with Haldol in the early years. But I would hope that all the nurses and psychiatrist were not as heartless as Selby painted. I have seen recently as lot of people who are labeled with schizophrenia that are doing meth and K2 and it does give you pause. It’s really hard to keep them clean enough to know how they will be after there is enough sobriety. And K2 does some permanent brain damage. Amphetamine abuse can lead to hallucinations and psychotic behaviors and with no food, I guess Sara could have looked pretty mentally ill. I think hospitals have a lot of pressures that make it hard for some staff to speak out against other staff.

Probably more into than you wanted.


message 40: by Diane (new)

Diane  | 2051 comments Kristel wrote: "Diane wrote: "Kristel wrote: "Thankfully, mental health has had some major reform and improvement for patient rights.
"

Kristel, as a mental health nurse, have you seen any cases similar to those..."


Thanks for the information, Kristel. For some of these patients, I wonder if the schizophrenia existed first leading to the drug usage or if the drug usage led to schizophrenia-like symptoms.

It is scary to see how Sara's situation manifested itself. I am sure a lot of drug abusers have been misdiagnosed, especially back in the '70's.


message 41: by Kristel (last edited Jul 25, 2018 06:46PM) (new)

Kristel (kristelh) | 4259 comments Mod
Diane wrote: "Kristel wrote: "Diane wrote: "Kristel wrote: "Thankfully, mental health has had some major reform and improvement for patient rights.
"

Kristel, as a mental health nurse, have you seen any cases ..."

That’s what I always believed but now days it is harder to know. In the past, a person was sent to the state hospital, we got them off their drugs and had long enough to know if it was just drug induced or a condition that probably led to drug use as a way of trying to make sense of what was going on in their thoughts. It just isn’t as easy anymore. I work on the ACT team which is the replacement for the state hospitals. We try to maintain these individuals in their communities. It is a challenge with the drugs so readily available.

And, it is highly unlikely that a first incident of schizophrenia happened at the age of Sara. The doctors should have looked for another cause. They should have done a better history. They should have looked for causes of delirium. This was a very poor representation of medical/mental health field. First incident schizophrenia is a young person’s illness. It would be more likely to show up in Harry than in his mother.


message 42: by Tracy (new)

Tracy (tstan) | 559 comments Diane wrote: "Kristel wrote: "Diane wrote: "Kristel wrote: "Thankfully, mental health has had some major reform and improvement for patient rights.
"

Kristel, as a mental health nurse, have you seen any cases ..."


I wonder this same thing. How many mentally ill self-medicate? But this population of patients are notorious for being noncompliant with their prescribed med regimen, too. It’s a vicious cycle.


message 43: by Kristel (last edited Jul 25, 2018 06:58PM) (new)

Kristel (kristelh) | 4259 comments Mod
On my current ACT team which averages 40 clients (I live in rural Minnesota, so not an urban ACT team). At least half the clients are self medicating. The most often used is meth and marijuana a close second.

But they also use energy drinks, caffeine pills, benzodiazepines. There is a lot of self medicating. The staff members do a lot of work to try to keep the patient’s at least taking their medications.


message 44: by Diane (new)

Diane  | 2051 comments Kristel wrote: "And, it is highly unlikely that a first incident of schizophrenia happened at the age of Sara. The doctors should have looked for another cause. They should have done a better history. They should have looked for causes of delirium. This was a very poor representation of medical/mental health field. First incident schizophrenia is a young person’s illness. It would be more likely to show up in Harry than in his mother. "

True.


back to top