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Last Exit to Brooklyn (Penguin Modern Classics) Paperback – 25 Aug 2011


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Product details

  • Paperback: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Classics (25 Aug. 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0141195657
  • ISBN-13: 978-0141195650
  • Product Dimensions: 12.9 x 1.6 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (48 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 6,236 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

Review

Selby's place is in the front rank of American novelists ... to understand his work is to understand the anguish of America (New York Times Book Review)

An urgent tickertape from hell (Spectator)

Selby deploys street slang, common speech, argot and scatology to create a high poetic art...it seems to derive from the greatest American poetry--Whitman, Pound, Williams, and Olson (The Nation)

From the Publisher

Hubert Selby Jr's classic and controversial masterpiece of the wild underside of New York life. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

4.0 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

26 of 26 people found the following review helpful By B. Remy on 29 Mar. 2005
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I am very glad that I've read this book, but now I have, I will never read it again.

It is a hard-boiled account about marginalised people - a prostitute, a transvestite, a convict, and a sexually troubled trade union leader amongst others. The style of writing is utterly refreshing and compelling, the characterisation astonishing, and beating from deep within the book is a heart and humanity. It is not though a dispassioned or sanitised book - the words "raw" and "gritty" are a massive understatement at times.

Be in no doubt that this book can be brutal, it pulls no punches and it often leaves a dirty bloody taste in your mouth whilst reading it.

It's a very good book, there's no doubt about it, but be prepared for a painful and uneasy read. There are no happy endings.
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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful By "louisahelenka" on 14 Jan. 2003
Format: Paperback
Last exit to Brooklyn is the only Selby Jnr. book I have read, yet will undoubtedly not be the last. Read in a stuffy hostel in Spain while ill, I was transfixed by a world of degredation, mysogyny, and utter contempt. The characters that Selby Jnr. portrays are visceral and hateful - Tralala is almost like a modern day Lulu, and ultimately deserves what she gets. Vince and his pals are hateful characters not unlike Burgess' Clockwork Orange mob - disrespectful to everyone and everything and getting away with it. It seems that Selby Jnr. is trying to show how the characters all use and abuse each other and ultimately, none are the better for it. This book is seedy, and the characters hateful, yet it had me gripped to the end.I still don't know why I enjoyed it so much and could not put it down - maybe this is Selby Jnr.s way of showing that we can be just as perverse as these fictional characters. Sickeningly enjoyable and made even more contreversial when thinking of the trouble Selby Jnr. had in getting it published. Will definitely be reading more of his work.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By N. Chida on 7 Dec. 2009
Format: Paperback
I will never forget how it felt to read this book.

The language here seems to do things I thought were only possible on film or on mind altering drugs: it creates a world so vivid that as a reader I was trapped by it, in a universe of sharp edges, hopelessly real. I hadn't felt so wrapped up in a novel since I read Huckleberry Finn - which is in my top 5 favourite American Novels of all times. (The similarities stop there though).

There are no likeable characters in Last Exit (I felt both pity and resentment towards them and the combination made me uneasy), so you will need to find a way to appreciate the text outside of the identification process. The narrator will not guide you nor prepare you for the horror of what is to come. Everything is crude, desperate, wretched and violent - as if to hint that reality is being served up unaltered.

I cannot but admire the author's success in crafting this text, with no central character to cling to, no overall plot to follow but just a cold shower of 'reality' - un-apologizing, un-moralising and completely devoid of hope. People seem to interact on a very superficial level - they are unable to understand themselves and unwilling to see others. Each is stuck in the prison of his mind, pointlessly banging his head against its bars with inexhaustible rage.

Zola meets Welsh? Haunting? gut wrenching? These are all terms I don't like using because they have lost their impact, but this book makes me wish they hadn't. This is like the rape scene in Irreversible, the flogging in The Heart is deceitful above all things, like the men killed off by cold and exhaustion in If this is a man. It is like being shoved into Bolgia 5 and knowing that there is NO EXIT.

This novel reminded me of what literature can do.
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful By "shadowed_sarah" on 12 Dec. 2004
Format: Paperback
Everyone should read this book once; sometimes it hurts to turn the page and watch another character that you have grown quietly fond of reach their inevitable downfall, or make the mistakes that you know are in their nature but that you don't want to see them make. By showing the nastier parts of mans characteristics unashamadly, Selby gives us not just a book, but a warning.
As much as people hate to see it, there is a little bit of one of the characters in all of us, whether the violent and materialistic Tralala or the tormented and love struck Georgette and it hurts to see our own natures portrayed so graphically in any text. But as difficult as this sometimes is, you walk away feeling somewhat cleansed and moved to not make the same mistakes. An unmissable piece of brilliance.
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22 of 25 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 18 Nov. 2000
Format: Paperback
This was Hubert Selby Jr. debut novel and such was the power of the book that in the UK, the original publishers were taken to court to be prosecuted for obscenity. Luckily for us the case was thrown out but the book has a raw power that is both compassionate and horrifying.
Selby writes sketches of various lives living in Brooklyn. All trying to survive on a estate that continually grinds them down. People do nasty things to each other but Selby doesn't condemn his characters but trys to comprehend them.
The stories are bitter and raw, from Tralala who cannot distinguish between sex and love to Harry, a repressed homosexual who lets out his anger on his workers, his wife, his children because he has never come to terms with his sexuality.
Selby writes in a prose style that ignores every rule of school grammer bar one: it has to be understood by the reader.
There are no speech marks, semi-colons and rarely does a comma appear. The effect is stunning, the text hits the mind like bullets as the emotion crosses out of the page. If you thought William Burrough's 'Naked Lunch' was a daring literary experiment, try 'Last Exit to Brooklyn'.
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