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36 of 38 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The REAL American Dream!!
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...
Published on 19 July 1999

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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Shocking, graphic, harrowing
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...
Published on 8 Jan 2011 by LauraJane


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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
This review is from: Requiem for a Dream (Paperback)
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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21 of 22 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Selby genius, 19 Aug 2002
This review is from: Requiem for a Dream (Paperback)
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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13 of 14 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. If you are looking for a nice story with a happy ending, definitely go elsewhere. It is also riddled with explicit sex and drug usage, so won't be everyone's cup of tea. It is, however, a brilliantly executed, brutal, upsetting and harrowing piece of writing that deserves to be widely read.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Best book I've read in my life, 1 Aug 2010
By 
Alexander Sokol (Copenhagen, Denmark) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
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This review is from: Requiem for a Dream (Paperback)
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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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Shocking, graphic, harrowing, 8 Jan 2011
This review is from: Requiem for a Dream (Paperback)
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 "Expect the Unexpected" (ACT, Australia) - See all my reviews
(TOP 500 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: Requiem for a Dream (Penguin Modern Classics) (Paperback)
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. Meantime, Harry, Tyrone and Marion's heroin supply dries up just as their need becomes greater. And as Harry, Tyrone and Marion become increasingly more desperate for heroin, their dreams disappear and they sink to new depths. No, the consequences of addiction can't happen to them.

`But that woman - I have told you I don't care about that woman. Even if you are correct in your diagnosis and assumptions, the worst that can happen is that she will have a few unnecessary shock treatments.'

It's Sara I feel sorriest for. She is not aware of the dangers of the diet pills, and by the time help is sought the only doctor who tries to treat her as an individual is overridden by other doctors who see symptoms rather than a person. Sara becomes trapped. The other three each face different consequences. There are no happy endings here.

`And let me remind you of something doctor ... harmony breeds efficiency. Good morning.'

This is a difficult novel to read, both because of the stream of consciousness style of writing and the painful depiction of addiction and its consequences. Each of the characters is chasing a dream, an illusion and each will be disappointed. The reader can see it happening, can feel the pain at times, but can do nothing to intervene. It's unsettling, and it's hard to put down this story and walk away.

Jennifer Cameron-Smith
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4.0 out of 5 stars grim but good, 13 July 2014
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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.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Dont watch the film until you've read the book!!, 24 May 2014
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This review is from: Requiem for a Dream (Penguin Modern Classics) (Paperback)
After watching the film, I ordered this book (because the books are always better than the film, and the film is brilliant).

I was new to Selby Jr but I'm now working my way through all of his books - I loved every one so far. This and The Demon are my top two as of yet.

However I feel like some of this novel was lost on me as I had already seen the film and therefore knew the plot :(

I wish I couldve read the book before the film, but then I may never have come across such a fantastic author...

If you get the chance, definitely read this before seeing the film!!!
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4.0 out of 5 stars better than the film, 28 April 2014
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Really enjoyed the book and felt the character development was better than in the film. I was totally engrossed, will probably read again!
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3.0 out of 5 stars Good and not so good, 23 Mar 2014
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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.
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Requiem for a Dream (Penguin Modern Classics)
Requiem for a Dream (Penguin Modern Classics) by Hubert Selby Jr. (Paperback - 26 April 2012)
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