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“An extraordinary achievement . . . a vision of hell so stern it cannot be chuckled or raged aside.”—The New York Times Book Review
A classic of postwar American literature, Last Exit to Brooklyn created shock waves upon its release in 1964 with its raw, vibrant language and startling revelations of New York City’s underbelly.    The prostitutes, drunks, addicts, and johns of Selby’s Brooklyn are fierce and lonely creatures, desperately searching for a moment of transcendence amidst the decay and brutality of the waterfront—though none have any real hope of escape.    Last Exit to Brooklyn offers a disturbing yet hauntingly sensitive portrayal of American life, and nearly fifty years after publication, it stands as a crucial and masterful work of modern fiction.    This ebook features an illustrated biography of Hubert Selby Jr. including rare photos from the author’s estate.

Topics: Abuse, New York City, Drugs, Sex, Crime, Prostitution, LGBTQ, Dark, Gritty, Suspenseful, Realism, Modernism, Brooklyn, Urban, Short stories, Debut, and 1950s

Published: Open Road Media an imprint of Open Road Integrated Media on
ISBN: 9781453235393
List price: $14.99
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Is this written intentionally with only periods for punctuation or is that an upload error? more
Didn't like it when I started reading it but then I couldn't put it down. Amazing book.more
I can't rate this. I can't read this. I acknowledge that the world holds brutality- the likes of which many of us have never known- and to pretend that it it doesn't does no favors to art or literature. However, to present ONLY the most brutal- or at the least heartless- of the actions of a given population seems an omission of it's own. I like to believe that some men aren't douchebags, and some women have a modicum of self-respect...even among the downtrodden and desperate...I'm sure I'm missing the point, but this book made me physically ill.
Is it well written? The chapter with Georgette is well-done, clever - her sad persistent obsession with Vinnie believable & heart-breaking- the introduction of "The Raven" very effective. The 1st section, and the one about the baby seem pointless, contrived, and disposable. Got part way through Tralala & can't continue.
If you have ever actually suffered physical or emotional abuse, rape, sexual coercion or degradation to an extent that damaged you (wow, that sounds like a lot of us)...good luck reading this and not undoing years of therapy.
I'm giving this a right-down-the-middle 2.5, in an attempt to be fair & not judge soly on content.
Just because you CAN write something like this, does it mean you SHOULD? That's the ringing question I take away.more
Ok so...this book makes Raymond Carver look like a stand up comedian next to Hubert Selby Jr. It is grueling. The characters are all a little depraved and desperately flawed. Most of the time, they seem to possess no idea of just how frighteningly misguided they are. The men are all misogynistic sadists whose wives should run before they are raped and murdered with their unattended babies falling off of ledges. The men that do work are despicably lazy. These are the criminals and underworld druggies, wifebeaters, and transvestites that existed long before Brooklyn became the trendy indie rock scene it is today. This is the life in the projects and it seems quite real and graphic. The rage these characters feel is like glimpsing into the mind of a sociopath.

This book was banned for a time and tried for obscenity in British courts when it was initially sought to be published there (Selby is a NYer). It was the inspiration for Trainspotting (a novel I found far more complex politically and therefore more worthwhile) and the baseness of the characters definitely makes the two novels touch upon similar issues and levels. Much as Irvine Welsh does (and there is a forward from him in my copy of this book), Hubert Selby Jr. writes in the vernacular of the working-poor class characters so you can vividly sense their stream of consciousness and dialogue. You can actually hear them pretty easily as one does with Welsh's Trainspotting characters.

However, where Welsh succeeds, Selby seems to fail. Welsh presents a dose of realism but he also ties this in with politics in a way that looks at religion and history of Scotland vs. Ireland vs. England. This makes Trainspotting far more complex and successful on other levels. Selby shows a glimpse into a cruel world, which also becomes a document for a time when Brooklyn wasn't regentrified as well as when racism and homophobia was much more rampant. It wasn't a time in American history one can feel particularly proud of and I can't help but feel relieved I wasn't born during this time into a Brooklyn project because I doubt I'd really survive that (especially with any of these male characters as fathers).

But the problem I have with this novel is that I don't really get a deeper message from it. There aren't any solutions offered here and I just ended up feeling really depressed and angry. I'm not really one of those people that just wants to read happy books all the time. I like an intellectual challenge but I already know there are psychopaths in the world. I know there are men who beat their wives and children and even molest children. I am well aware that evil exists and that it's not exactly a new phenomenon, which leads me to wonder why I should rate this book any higher. I will say I thought the author's story was interesting-that he decided to become a writer after being diagnosed with a lung disease and given a poor prognosis (he outlived anyone's expectations). I also found it interesting that he studied or was mentored by Gil Sorrentino but I have to say that I found his afterward a little irritating...his assumption that he'd contributed and left the world something makes an assumption I'm not sure I'd agree with myself. But I'm sure if aliens were to find this novel as the only item left to explain the human race, they wouldn't regret destroying our planet for a second.more
okay, i admit it, i jumped on the Selby Jr. bandwagon along with every other self-described hipster who saw Aronofsky's adaptation of 'Requiem for a Dream'

however, this book is so much more intimate than 'requiem'. granted, the visceral depictions of violence, rape, and drug-abuse can be unsettling and shocking, even today. yet, Selby, Jr. portrays the lives of the destitute with an empathy reminiscent of Nathanael West of Nelson Algren. indeed, any author that can make you really feel for drug-addicted transvestites and hyper-violent gang-leaders is an author with a very special gift.

(Re-read in January 2013 after listening to 'Fitzpleasure' by Alt-J. Still trying to figure out how/why they wrote a song about one of the most uncomfortably awful scenes in all of literature.)more
Excellent Introduction by Anthony Burgess on the whole censorship / obscenity debate.more
Not for the faint of heart. Hard to imagine this work was published over 40 years ago. Reading Last Exit left me feeling emotionally drained. The book depicts a group of vile low-life criminals, hookers, drag queens, dealers and addicts. It's a relentless journey into America's underbelly post WWII. The prose is raw, crude, hellish and dark. I'm not sure why I even kept reading. I did though. The second and third read years later allowed me to appreciate the fact that this was Selby's debut novel. Within Selby's nightmare is something beautiful and raw. If you haven't read any of his other works, read this one later.more
I liked this movie, although, I would have preferred Tra-lala's and Georgie's portions to be longer. I think Tra-la-la's rape scene is one of the most gruelling read I have had.more
Selby was a one-off, and I loved in particular his idiosyncratic use of punctuation (writing “don’tâ€? as “don/tâ€?, zum Beispiel). This was the first book I read by him and it was just amazing how much power his words packed.more
A while since I read this book which was tried for obscenity in the UK. But good all the same- a real slice of life.more
Fresh, unputdownable, disturbing - even up to Selby/s use of the slash in place of the apostrophe and other orthographical oddities. I look forward to reading anything else by this author.more
Read all 15 reviews

Reviews

Is this written intentionally with only periods for punctuation or is that an upload error? more
Didn't like it when I started reading it but then I couldn't put it down. Amazing book.more
I can't rate this. I can't read this. I acknowledge that the world holds brutality- the likes of which many of us have never known- and to pretend that it it doesn't does no favors to art or literature. However, to present ONLY the most brutal- or at the least heartless- of the actions of a given population seems an omission of it's own. I like to believe that some men aren't douchebags, and some women have a modicum of self-respect...even among the downtrodden and desperate...I'm sure I'm missing the point, but this book made me physically ill.
Is it well written? The chapter with Georgette is well-done, clever - her sad persistent obsession with Vinnie believable & heart-breaking- the introduction of "The Raven" very effective. The 1st section, and the one about the baby seem pointless, contrived, and disposable. Got part way through Tralala & can't continue.
If you have ever actually suffered physical or emotional abuse, rape, sexual coercion or degradation to an extent that damaged you (wow, that sounds like a lot of us)...good luck reading this and not undoing years of therapy.
I'm giving this a right-down-the-middle 2.5, in an attempt to be fair & not judge soly on content.
Just because you CAN write something like this, does it mean you SHOULD? That's the ringing question I take away.more
Ok so...this book makes Raymond Carver look like a stand up comedian next to Hubert Selby Jr. It is grueling. The characters are all a little depraved and desperately flawed. Most of the time, they seem to possess no idea of just how frighteningly misguided they are. The men are all misogynistic sadists whose wives should run before they are raped and murdered with their unattended babies falling off of ledges. The men that do work are despicably lazy. These are the criminals and underworld druggies, wifebeaters, and transvestites that existed long before Brooklyn became the trendy indie rock scene it is today. This is the life in the projects and it seems quite real and graphic. The rage these characters feel is like glimpsing into the mind of a sociopath.

This book was banned for a time and tried for obscenity in British courts when it was initially sought to be published there (Selby is a NYer). It was the inspiration for Trainspotting (a novel I found far more complex politically and therefore more worthwhile) and the baseness of the characters definitely makes the two novels touch upon similar issues and levels. Much as Irvine Welsh does (and there is a forward from him in my copy of this book), Hubert Selby Jr. writes in the vernacular of the working-poor class characters so you can vividly sense their stream of consciousness and dialogue. You can actually hear them pretty easily as one does with Welsh's Trainspotting characters.

However, where Welsh succeeds, Selby seems to fail. Welsh presents a dose of realism but he also ties this in with politics in a way that looks at religion and history of Scotland vs. Ireland vs. England. This makes Trainspotting far more complex and successful on other levels. Selby shows a glimpse into a cruel world, which also becomes a document for a time when Brooklyn wasn't regentrified as well as when racism and homophobia was much more rampant. It wasn't a time in American history one can feel particularly proud of and I can't help but feel relieved I wasn't born during this time into a Brooklyn project because I doubt I'd really survive that (especially with any of these male characters as fathers).

But the problem I have with this novel is that I don't really get a deeper message from it. There aren't any solutions offered here and I just ended up feeling really depressed and angry. I'm not really one of those people that just wants to read happy books all the time. I like an intellectual challenge but I already know there are psychopaths in the world. I know there are men who beat their wives and children and even molest children. I am well aware that evil exists and that it's not exactly a new phenomenon, which leads me to wonder why I should rate this book any higher. I will say I thought the author's story was interesting-that he decided to become a writer after being diagnosed with a lung disease and given a poor prognosis (he outlived anyone's expectations). I also found it interesting that he studied or was mentored by Gil Sorrentino but I have to say that I found his afterward a little irritating...his assumption that he'd contributed and left the world something makes an assumption I'm not sure I'd agree with myself. But I'm sure if aliens were to find this novel as the only item left to explain the human race, they wouldn't regret destroying our planet for a second.more
okay, i admit it, i jumped on the Selby Jr. bandwagon along with every other self-described hipster who saw Aronofsky's adaptation of 'Requiem for a Dream'

however, this book is so much more intimate than 'requiem'. granted, the visceral depictions of violence, rape, and drug-abuse can be unsettling and shocking, even today. yet, Selby, Jr. portrays the lives of the destitute with an empathy reminiscent of Nathanael West of Nelson Algren. indeed, any author that can make you really feel for drug-addicted transvestites and hyper-violent gang-leaders is an author with a very special gift.

(Re-read in January 2013 after listening to 'Fitzpleasure' by Alt-J. Still trying to figure out how/why they wrote a song about one of the most uncomfortably awful scenes in all of literature.)more
Excellent Introduction by Anthony Burgess on the whole censorship / obscenity debate.more
Not for the faint of heart. Hard to imagine this work was published over 40 years ago. Reading Last Exit left me feeling emotionally drained. The book depicts a group of vile low-life criminals, hookers, drag queens, dealers and addicts. It's a relentless journey into America's underbelly post WWII. The prose is raw, crude, hellish and dark. I'm not sure why I even kept reading. I did though. The second and third read years later allowed me to appreciate the fact that this was Selby's debut novel. Within Selby's nightmare is something beautiful and raw. If you haven't read any of his other works, read this one later.more
I liked this movie, although, I would have preferred Tra-lala's and Georgie's portions to be longer. I think Tra-la-la's rape scene is one of the most gruelling read I have had.more
Selby was a one-off, and I loved in particular his idiosyncratic use of punctuation (writing “don’tâ€? as “don/tâ€?, zum Beispiel). This was the first book I read by him and it was just amazing how much power his words packed.more
A while since I read this book which was tried for obscenity in the UK. But good all the same- a real slice of life.more
Fresh, unputdownable, disturbing - even up to Selby/s use of the slash in place of the apostrophe and other orthographical oddities. I look forward to reading anything else by this author.more
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