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Requiem for a Dream (Penguin Modern Classics) [Paperback]

Hubert Selby Jr.
4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (25 customer reviews)
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Book Description

26 April 2012 Penguin Modern Classics
Harry Goldfarb, heroin addict and son of lonely widow Sara, cares only about enjoying the good life with girlfriend Marion and best friend Tyrone C Love, and making the most of all the hash, poppers and dope they can get. Sara Goldfarb sits at home with the TV, dreaming of the life she could have and struggling with her own addictions - food and diet pills. But these four will pay a terrible price for the pleasures they believe they are entitled to. A passionate, heart-breaking tale of the crushing weight of hope and expectation, Requiem for a Dream is a dark modern-day fable of New York.

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Requiem for a Dream (Penguin Modern Classics) + Last Exit to Brooklyn (Penguin Modern Classics) + The Room (Penguin Modern Classics)
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Product details

  • Paperback: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Classics (26 April 2012)
  • Language: Unknown
  • ISBN-10: 0141195665
  • ISBN-13: 978-0141195667
  • Product Dimensions: 1.5 x 12.5 x 19.3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (25 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 31,035 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description


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)

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)

Selby brings a scorching light to a limited area of human existence, which most people know of but do not know (Newsweek)

About the Author

Hubert Selby, Jr. was born in Brooklyn in 1928. At the age of 15, he dropped out of school and went to sea with the merchant marines. While at sea he was diagnosed with lung disease. With no other way to make a living, he decided to try writing: 'I knew the alphabet. Maybe I could be a writer.' In 1964 he completed his first book, Last Exit to Brooklyn, which has since become a cult classic. In 1966, it was the subject of an obscenity trial in the UK. His other books include The Room, The Demon, Requiem for a Dream, Song of the Silent Snow, The Willow Tree and Waiting Period. In 2000, Requiem for a Dream starred Jared Leto and Ellen Burstyn and was directed by Darren Aronofsky. Hubert Selby Jr died in Highland Park, Los Angeles, California in April 2004.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
36 of 38 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The REAL American Dream!! 19 July 1999
By A Customer
Another Selby classic, about two friends who decide it's time they carved themselves a slice of the American Dream. They work hard, stay sober and earn enough to buy a large amount of high grade drugs. As dealers, they enjoy unlimited success, but as they start to dabble, they lose their money, their livelihoods and their souls. And as for the poor women in their lives ... Less gut-churning than Selby's nastier work, this is a great book to start out with if you're new to him, with charcters you can feel for. It's a grim piece of work - all of Selby's books are - but it's also unforgettable. Buy it today and you'll thank yourself forever.
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22 of 23 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Selby genius 19 Aug 2002
You might have seen the brilliant Darren Aronofsky film adaptation and wondered what the book is like. Short answer, genius. It is written in Selby's phonetic style which may take some people a while to get used to. The book takes a while to get warmed up as Selby likes to show the good times in summer before the winter destruction. It is amazing to read something so brilliantly written and so powerfully negative. An immensely thought-provoking novel about addiction and degeneration. The book is probably on a par with the film that followed over 20 years after it was written.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Best book I've read in my life 1 Aug 2010
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
The movie "Requiem for a Dream" by Aronofsky has been a favourite of mine practically since it came out, but it wasn't until recently that I took the time to read the book. The book is filled with many of those aspects of humanity which are intuitively understood but hard to explain. It concerns itself with real people, people with fears, insecurities, hopes and dreams and that particular trait of understanding real closeness, realizing its absence and the consequent weltschmertz and yet also a drive to obtain that which is missed in spite of the difficulties.

The book manages to convey an immense amount of life in very few pages. I give it my highest recommendation. This is a work of art.
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14 of 15 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Harrowing story of hope and drugs 14 Oct 2005
Selby's 'RFAD' follows the stories of four dreamers. Harry, Tyrone and Marion are small time drug users who dream of escaping their lives by accruing money from drug deals until they have enough to escape the streets forever. They are all determined to avoid the fates of other users. Sara, Harry's ageing mother, is on a shortlist to appear on TV and dreams of wearing her favourite red dress, now several sizes too small. Nothing helps her lose weight until she goes to a doctor who prescribes 'diet pills' (in reality a mixture of amphetamines and downers), which slowly take over her life. The drugs, originally a means to an end for all the characters, become the end in themselves, sounding the requiem for all their dreams.
'RFAD' is a book about hope, and how drugs can both give it and take it away from you. Harry and Marion use drugs to feel good but it is their dreams that keep them going. Sara is lonely, sad and old, and the promise of TV (her fix) gives her a reason to go on living. The pills give her hope that she will look good when she gets there. Selby brilliantly builds up their stories, and the way in which the drugs take on gradually more and more importance in their lives is very subtly done. At no point does he moralise about the evils (or otherwise) of drugs, he just lets the stories unfold. The contrast between Harry, Marion, Tyrone and Sara's lives at the start of the book and the end is harrowing, as their existences become more drug dependent and more horrific.
'RFAD' is one of the most brutal and harrowing books I have ever read. I found Sara's story very disturbing and particularly well told. Selby uses a mix of fluid prose and dialect to keep the story moving along quickly. It is a fairly short book, but is unrelentingly grim.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Shocking, graphic, harrowing 8 Jan 2011
Finished the book last week and I am still thinking about it. The book graphically documents the lives of 4 connected characters who use drugs. My only negative is that the book is written in a very unusual manner, with conversations flowing with little pauses, which does take a while to get used to. Some of the descriptions of the heroin use can be very graphic, so I would not reccomend to the very squemish
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars When dreams become nightmares. 20 Sep 2013
By Jennifer Cameron-Smith TOP 500 REVIEWER
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 for the first time - and the reader starts to wonder what will happen next. Sara eats her chocolates, watches television, and worries (sometimes) about Harry. She is lonely without Seymour (her late husband). And then, Sara's phone rings:

`Mrs Goldfarb, this is Lyle Russel of the McDick Corporation.'

Lyle Russel is looking for contestants in game shows and tells Sara that all she needs to do to have a chance to appear on television is fill in a questionnaire. Sara is excited by this, and decides to try to look her best - by losing some weight. Tyrone and Harry are dreaming of getting rich enough to retire: a pound of pure heroin should do it. Tyrone and Harry earn enough money to purchase some drugs and start dealing to people they know. And as the money flows in, Marion and Harry dream of opening a business of their own one day. Elusive things, dreams.

`It wasn't that they couldn't stop using, it was just that this wasn't the time. They had too much to do and they weren't feeling well.'

Time passes, winter arrives, and things start to come apart. Sara's diet hasn't been successful, but one of her neighbours recommends a doctor who prescribes diet pills. Sara becomes addicted, and the McDick Corporation still hasn't contacted her.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars grim but good
Hard not to feel sorry for every character in the book I only kept reading because of the hope it might look up for the characters which is why I think it was great.
Published 1 month ago by debs
2.0 out of 5 stars The story itself is fantastic but I found it almost impossible to...
The story itself is fantastic but I found it almost impossible to overcome his lack of grammar and general writing style. Read more
Published 2 months ago by Alexander Ben
5.0 out of 5 stars Dont watch the film until you've read the book!!
After watching the film, I ordered this book (because the books are always better than the film, and the film is brilliant). Read more
Published 3 months ago by Ami
4.0 out of 5 stars better than the film
Really enjoyed the book and felt the character development was better than in the film. I was totally engrossed, will probably read again!
Published 4 months ago by Pamela Mundt
3.0 out of 5 stars Good and not so good
the start was a bit tiring and I had to force my way through but as the story progresses it quickness in pace until it's morbidly fascinating climax.
Published 5 months ago by Mr B Taylor
5.0 out of 5 stars Review
This was chosen from a wish list as a christmas gift so I assume the person is happy with it.
Published 7 months ago by Mrs S Ferguson
5.0 out of 5 stars A tragic masterpiece about misplaced dreams (spoilers)
I suppose it's a bit of a strange thing to 'like' Requiem for a Dream, novel and film adaptation alike. Read more
Published 8 months ago by Adam Martley
5.0 out of 5 stars Unsettling masterpiece
If you have seen the movie you will know that this story is not for the feint hearted. For everyone else, it is a must read.
Published 10 months ago by Amazon Customer
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent book
Not a book to read in the middle of the best day of your life.

A book to read though during points in your life where you feel greed or complacency may have set in. Read more
Published 10 months ago by Cei
3.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant ... for a while
This novel gets off to a terrific start and I was quickly hooked by the distinctive writing style, so different from anything else I've read. Read more
Published 11 months ago by Phil O'Sofa
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