Last Exit to Brooklyn (Penguin Modern Classics) Paperback – 25 Aug 2011
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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.See all Product Description
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Top Customer Reviews
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.
The book was not only controversial on account of its subject-matter; Selby’s prose style also raised a few eyebrows. It is written in slangy, demotic language, with much use of profanity. Words are often contracted or run together and spelt according to the rules of colloquial New York pronunciation rather than of strict English orthography. Nor does the book follow normal rules of punctuation; there are, for example, no apostrophes and, more radically, no speech marks. The effect of this can be disconcerting; one reviewer complains that it is not always possible to say whether a character is thinking, speaking or narrating. The same point occurred to me, but unlike that reviewer I felt that this confusion was not an error or evidence of sloppy writing on Selby’s part but something done quite deliberately for effect. It seemed to me that Selby was aiming at creating a new, experimental style of prose, somewhere in between traditional third-person storytelling and modernist first-person stream-of-consciousness narrative.Read more ›
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'.
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.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
To begin with I was pretty gripped, stunned even by the visceral, unflinching violence. Throw in the seedy sex: straight, transexual, you name it. Read morePublished 4 months ago by Woolco
I bought it because Alt-J mentioned the book in their interview and they dedicated one of their songs to it.
Not the most amazing book I've read but its different. Read more
This book is brutal, but fantastic!! There are no likeable characters here, but you can't help but feel sorry for the desperate situations they are in at times. Read morePublished 8 months ago by Alison
Disappointed badly written - this modern style needs more clarityPublished 12 months ago by stephen w black
Great read giving a good background to the life in New York in the 50'sPublished 14 months ago by Nigel Auckland
Hugely enjoyable depiction of Brooklyn's seedy underside. Selby is a master of capturing the vernacular of all classes of low life in 50's New York.Published 15 months ago by Peter Wilkinson