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The Demon: A Novel [Paperback]

Hubert Selby
3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (25 customer reviews)

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Paperback, 1 May 1978 --  

Book Description

1 May 1978

Harry White is the man other men want to be: admired by his peers, talented, rich, and desired by countless women. His steady rise to a position of unprecedented influence in a New York investment firm seems inevitable to those who know him, and on the way he acquires a beautiful wife and children. But with every achievement the desire to destroy what is his grows stronger. A demon within drives him to sexual excess, petty crime and eventually murder.

The Demon explores the dark side of a man's ambitions with unflinching determination. Harry White's story is a gripping twentieth-century tragedy.

--This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

Product details

  • Paperback: 312 pages
  • Publisher: Marion Boyars Publishers Ltd; New edition edition (1 May 1978)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0714525995
  • ISBN-13: 978-0714525990
  • Product Dimensions: 2.2 x 12.9 x 19.9 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (25 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 610,288 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

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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. (The New York Times Book Review)

A major author of a stature with William Burroughs and Joseph Heller (Los Angeles Times) --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

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. --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
21 of 24 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Terrifying, raw, original... real. 22 Jan 2003
By R. Fox
Selby is just about the best author I have ever read. His books speak to me and make me believe what each page says more than any other author. There is a fundamental, and somewhat un-nerving, realism to his books that makes them highly uncomfortable reading, but it is this discomfort which makes me come back to his books again and again. Last Exit To Brooklyn blew me away, with it's picture perfect description of desperate, (an perhaps a little extreme) cases of inner-city slum-type living, and the psychological effects it can have upon it's street dwellers. Requiem For A Dream carried on a nasty, horrid-tasting tale of drug-related woe that Trainspotting could only begin to thinly paint. And now I've read The Demon, and this is another gut-wrencher, ready to pull you under life and show you how it REALLY works.
The Demon focuses on Harry White, a young, high-flying office worker in a successful Manhattan firm, who basically spends his days working hard, travelling hard (he has to journey from his parents' place out of town to work and back every single day), and seducing hard, because Harry's favourite hobby is to pick up strange women (especially if they're married - it adds to the excitement), and then basically dump them right after he's had his fun. The book goes on to show how Harry derives an almost narcotic-like craving for women, and begins to pick up just about anyone on his lunch hour, take them to a motel, and then try to get back to work on time. The futility of his carnal desperation soon takes it's toll on his work-load, and he finds himself getting torn between 'Broads' and potential promotion.
As time goes by, it seems that Harry grows up somewhat.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Hubert Selby Jr's best work 2 July 2002
By A Customer
In my opinion, this is definitely Hubert Selby Jr's best novel. It is much more human and humane than 'Last Exit' or 'The Room' (both of which are far less balanced than this book). Like all of this author's works, the novel is highly disturbing and brutally real. The decline of the central character is shocking because he is such a credible character at the start of the piece. This is the story of a successful young man with everything to live for, who is destroyed by his spiralling obsessions. A fascinating portrayal of self destruction. I highly recommend this novel, although it comes with the usual warning that Hubert Selby Jr novels are definitely not for the faint hearted.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A decent read 16 Aug 2013
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
The Demon by Hubert Selby Jnr. follows the exploits of a talented, but troubled, businessman and his descent into madness. Harry White has everything, yet some inexorable compulsion within him drives him to ever more depraved acts in search of a way to silence the disquieting feelings that haunt him.

I enjoyed the book overall, although I did feel that the tale could have been considerably shorter. A lot of the scenarios included throughout the story are quite repetitive and this takes an edge off the tension that Selby strives so hard to maintain. Additionally, it takes about 200 pages for Harry's sexual deviancies to escalate into something more serious and from then on his crimes grow steadily worse at a breakneck speed in the final 60 or so pages. I would have liked a more even spread of Harry's problems, but, hey ho, we can't have everything.

I'm also not convinced of the merits of Selby's unusual writing and grammatical style. The lack of punctuation can occasionally cause confusion and I had to reread a number of sections to make sure I had followed them correctly. In addition, there are some huge paragraph indents that make no logical sense to me. Selby does, however, do a sterling job of dragging the reader into Harry's madness by utilising a frantic descriptive style with some sentences lasting a half page or more before being punctuated. I thought this was a really effective way of showing us the inner workings of Harry's mind; the long, almost incoherent flow of his thought illustrate his crumbling sanity brilliantly.

This is my first Selby book, but I was suitably impressed to consider checking out some of his other works. I look forward to reading them.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Oh so underrated. 15 April 2011
By lomesa
This is simply the best of Hubert Selby Jr's output, preceding the brat pack and scathing so silently at the world. This is really a book that changes your life, and it's a travesty that it's not as celebrated as his other works. A horrible, wonderful book.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A powerful novel of psychological horror 11 Aug 2002
Very few novels have unsettled me as this one. It begins as a study of addiction, sex addiction in this case, with all the evasions, denials and behaviours of the addict depicted thoughtfully and with feeling.
The protagonist, Harry, has moments where he is aware that something is very wrong. Intermittently he senses how fulfilled he could be, and how the good things of his life really could be his salvation (a loving family, a passionate, loving marriage, children). But such moments of bewilderment change to horror as the stakes are raised.
His 'demon,' his addiction or obsession, leads him into more and more dangerous situations as it escalates the game, intensifying the need in Harry so that his drug of choice moves from casual sex, to dangerous sex, to petty crime, and then to the shocking acts of the novels conclusion.
The writer, unfortunately for your sleep, makes you care deeply for the protagonist, as his capacity for destruction increases with his outward success. The action takes place in Harry's tortured thoughts, and through the viewpoints of those close to him. The writing is brutal and poetic, stripped down and lethally accurate in its meaning. Not one word is superfluous in this brutal prose poem.
Incredible, exhilerating, but profoundly disturbing. Be prepared to be introduced to some of your own demons.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
1.0 out of 5 stars Nasty
Another misogynistic feast from Selby Jr. I found this one very repetitive, and couldn't wait for it to end. I can't see why such venomous outpourings are seen as classic fiction? Read more
Published 21 days ago by High Seas Drifter
5.0 out of 5 stars Not what I expected at all
Selby Jr is one of my favourite authors, and The Demon is top of my list (join with Requiem for a Dream, which is just amazing.)
Published 1 month ago by Ami
2.0 out of 5 stars Faded away
This novel began pretty well and held my interest throughout the first two thirds of the book, or maybe a little more. Read more
Published 4 months ago by J Bannion
2.0 out of 5 stars Good start poor finish
The early chapters were riveting as Harry White, the relative loner although paradoxically a player and sex hound, unravels and descends into murder via sexual depravity. Read more
Published 8 months ago by C. Cameron
2.0 out of 5 stars Boring
This is no masterpiece. I've trudged thru this story for ages whilst on holiday before parking it. I really can't recommend it unless you need something to help you sleep...
Published 10 months ago by James Mousley
5.0 out of 5 stars What a thoughtful and disturbing book.
I read this book about 7 weeks ago and can't remember the name of the central character already! However, what I do remember is his hedonistic approach to life being overly... Read more
Published 10 months ago by 81641
1.0 out of 5 stars The Demon
Didn't like this at all, I found it boring, I thought it may pick up as I went along but it didn't
Published 11 months ago by Mrs FM Scott
4.0 out of 5 stars Decent Read
Personally I think that Last Exit to Brookland and Requiem for a Dream were his best works. However,
this does not disappoint. Read more
Published 11 months ago by Sandy Fenwick
2.0 out of 5 stars not "my type of book"..
Obviously everyone is different and has different interests. I hadn't heard about Selby before (and so didn't know he also wrote Requiem for a Dream, which I'd wanted to read). Read more
Published 22 months ago by commedesfilles
3.0 out of 5 stars Quite readable but, ultimately a bit hollow
I bought this book after reading Last Exit to Brooklyn, which I thought was fantastic, and after watching Requiem for a Dream. Read more
Published on 30 Mar 2012 by Mr. J. Oxley
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