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Last Exit to Brooklyn (Paladin Books) [Paperback]

Jr. Selby Hubert
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (44 customer reviews)

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Paperback, 16 Aug 1993 --  

Book Description

16 Aug 1993 Paladin Books
A reissue of a controversial novel first published in 1964 which has been republished to coincide with a new film. Written by a Brooklyn-born, ex-marine and drug addict, it describes the world of prostitutes, junkies and drag queens that he knew well.

Product details

  • Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Flamingo; (Reissue) edition (16 Aug 1993)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0586085882
  • ISBN-13: 978-0586085882
  • Product Dimensions: 19.6 x 13 x 2 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (44 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 544,492 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description


'A masterpiece' -- Al Alvarez

'An urgent tickertape from hell' -- Spectator

'Last Exit to Brooklyn is a tour de force of muscular, rhythmic prose' -- New Statesman

'Selby's place is in the front rank of American to understand his work is to understand the anguish of America' -- New York Times --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

From the Publisher

Hubert Selby Jr's classic and controversial masterpiece of the wild underside of New York life. --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

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First Sentence
THEY sprawled along the counter and on the chairs. Read the first page
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
25 of 25 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A compelling yet uneasy read 29 Mar 2005
By B. Remy
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
4.0 out of 5 stars An ugly tale that is beautifully compelling 14 Jan 2003
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
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
5.0 out of 5 stars An unusual experience 12 Dec 2004
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
5.0 out of 5 stars A stunning vision of an inner city hell 18 Nov 2000
By A Customer
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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Most Recent Customer Reviews
1.0 out of 5 stars Not for me
Couldn't read it. Not for me.
Published 1 month ago by couture Kate
4.0 out of 5 stars a crawl on the wild side
As real as it probably gets. A fascinating look at a bleak world. Everyone should read it once, just to be grateful.
Published 1 month ago by Mark Earle
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
The prose is wonderful.
Published 1 month ago by Laureen Patterson
5.0 out of 5 stars Laughing all the Way to The bank
Good old Penguin. Having made a mint out of lady Chatterly, they went on to publish as a 'modern classic' last Exit

No publicity is bad publicity. Read more
Published 2 months ago by Samuel Romilly
5.0 out of 5 stars Gritty
A novel full of gritty realism, which does not pull its punches over the way of life in a poor part of Brooklyn in the 1950s.
Published 5 months ago by Tricky
5.0 out of 5 stars Gritty
Reading this was like looking through a window into another world. One of depravation, poverty and crime. Read more
Published 6 months ago by Idgey
4.0 out of 5 stars Ground-Breaking, But Unremittingly Bleak
Hubert Selby Jr.'s controversial 1964 tale of the New York underclass is an 'in your face', stream of consciousness, account of uncompromising debauchery which is still shocking... Read more
Published 6 months ago by Keith M
4.0 out of 5 stars Punches, kicks, shakes, dresses and drugs you into another world
This is the 1964 American classic portraying the seedy lives of people of the title location. It was famously banned in the UK on its release in 1966 but re-instated after a couple... Read more
Published 7 months ago by H. Tee
2.0 out of 5 stars apparently a classic
i thought reading this book was like wading through treacle i appreciate what the author is trying to take a peek into another social world but all that writing with no commas... Read more
Published 8 months ago by Michael Enever
2.0 out of 5 stars hard to get into
I bought this as I found not only the book description but the reviews provoking.
Not to be, I just could not get to grips with the way the wording and language nor the... Read more
Published 9 months ago by Ali
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