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Last Exit to Brooklyn (Penguin Modern Classics) Paperback – 25 Aug 2011

4.1 out of 5 stars 58 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Classics (25 Aug. 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0141195657
  • ISBN-13: 978-0141195650
  • Product Dimensions: 12.9 x 1.6 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (58 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 39,663 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Review

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.

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

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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Format: Paperback
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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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
“Last Exit to Brooklyn”- Selby took his title from a traffic direction sign- is normally described as a “novel”, but there is no single continuous narrative and it might better be regarded as a series of six loosely interconnected short stories and novellas, all set in the New York Borough of Brooklyn during the 1950s, around a decade before it was published. It was a highly controversial work when it first came out in 1964, largely because it dealt with such taboo subjects as rape, homosexuality transvestism and drug use. It was the subject of a famous British obscenity trial; at first instance the publishers were convicted, but the verdict was overturned on appeal.

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.
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Format: Paperback
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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By A Customer on 12 Dec. 2004
Format: Paperback
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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