In Coney Island, Brooklyn, Sarah Goldfarb, A Lonely Widow, Wants Nothing Than To Lose Weight And Appear On A Television Game Show She Becomes Addicted To Diet Pills In Her Obsessive Quest, While Her Junkie Son, Harry, Along With His Girlfriend, Marion, And His Best Friend, Tyrone, Have Devised An Illicit Shortcut To Wealth And Leisure By Scoring A Pound Of Uncut Heroin Entranced By The Gleaming Visions Of Their Futures, These Four Convince Themselves That Unexpected Setbacks Are Only Temporary Even As Their Lives Slowly Deteriorate Around Them, They Cling To Their Delusions And Become Utterly Consumed In The Spiral Of Drugs And Addiction, Refusing To See That They Have Instead Created Their Own Worst Nightmares Selby S Place Is In The Front Rank Of American Novelists HIs Work Has The Power, The Intimacy With Suffering And Morality, The Honesty And Moral Urgency Of Doestoevsky S To Understand Selby S Work Is To Understand The Anguish Of America The New York Times Book Review Am I the only person in the world who thought this book was terrible From the reviews, apparently so The book is all narrative and dialouge In other words, all telling with virtually no showing And what s up with cramming everyone s dialogue into the same paragraph so you can t always tell who is speaking Why not just break it normally so it s clear Or for goodness sake, use quotation marks And can you get any pretentious than being too good to use an apostraphe when you write youre or Im What s wrong with you re and I m Anyway, I ll never bother to read anything by this writer again.
Selby s novels are transgressive masterpieces with a bigness of heart and a strange, spiritual tenderness The epigraph to this book alludes to Selby s faith in God and I can see him writing about these doomed dope fiends with the compassion of a pastor tending to his flock This heartbreaking novel follows the decline of four distinct Americans young working class white male Jew, young middle class white female Jew, young working class black non Jew, and elderly widow All four are addicts through their emotional disconnectedness, or likely, failure with their parents and sons, though likely because heroin is sweeeeet Selby s style is a rush of exacting S o C sentences, staccato pops and blips, and elegant art patches whenever Marion is the focus I would argue the descent happens a little briskly, especially Sara s commitment to a psycho ward, and the subsequent brutality of doctors and police and nurses is a little quirk of Selby s the world outside his personnel s bubble is a horrid brutalising place maybe , but it s all good This is a goddamn American classic Now we live in an age where people will review your Kindle novel for five pounds No wonder poppers are popular again.
Among the people who try to find the meaning of the dreams or even interpret them, there are some for whom the mere hint of any positive dream is Life The solitude, oblivious to the surrounding and the troubles which keep them wide awake in the darkest nights, is what they look for feeling them as a whole Unable to find it, these ill fated souls stimulate their solitude by poisoning their veins to save themselves from the madness that is leisurely side walking toward them Little do they know that the madness did not stop at the red signal from their burning veins but started jaywalking all around Selby Jr takes us on a disturbing tour of drug infected streets of New Yorkers wandering here and there with the only objective of scoring their stuff in the cold weather among the carcasses disdainfully left to rot, struggling to survive between the Man Who mans the streets and drug dealers Who contaminates the streets As soon as you step into the scene, you will realize that this is not something conventional or just unorthodox, but just disturbingly strange.
Dream VS DopeDoes Dope instigate dreams or dreams bring the desire for dope Hard to say But the characters who are unhappy with their earthy lives and tired of their Nine To Five routine, take a shortcut to reach their seemingly unreachable dream with frequent injections of the fleeting dope, with a hope to prolong their sedated solitude which makes them feel themselves and as a whole Some fall for the other kind of oblivious addiction for fame which, they think, might save them from their boring loneliness and dull insignificance, gleefully trying to stash all their sorrows into the unreal lives of TV actors and unconsciously allowing the reality show anchors to chase them But, the day dreaming ends soon and the TV stops TV actors vanish and the anchor is no longer waving at them Nobody is there to cheer them any Autumn is gone Winter has come.
The characters dive into doing unjust and unimaginable things for just getting a shot, because what was once a relaxation or a pleasure has now become an impaling addiction from which they are trying to escape and striving to keep their distant dreams alive and when the urge is too compelling, disposing their dreams away with the syringes used to kill them I suspect there will never be a Requiem for a Dream, simply because it will destroy us before we have the opportunity to mourn it s passing.
Wow wow wow wow wow Requiem for a Dream manages to be so painful and beautiful at the same time Although I d seen the film before I read this book and knew the fate of the characters, I was still following their paths with such anxiety and hope It s an account of people who dream big but lose much bigger.
It follows four characters in the Bronx There s Sarah, a widow who spends her days living vicariously through her television while eating boxed chocolates On the warm days, she joins her lifelong neighbors for chatting and sunbathing outdoors When she receives a phone call informing her that she s been specially selected to participate in a new game show, her heart swells with anticipation She recovers her red dress from her glory years, gets her hair colored a matching blaze, and begins obsessively dieting in order to fit into the dress once again, imagining herself being admired on TV and being the envy of the block Sarah s son Harry, along with his best friend Tyrone and girlfriend Marion, are meanwhile doing some serious summer partying Harry and Tyrone begin dealing heroin plotting to score the pure stuff , and bringing in big bucks at first until the supply and demand of the streets catches up with them in the following winter months Harry and Marion, who were once planning on taking the drug money and opening an artsy coffee shop, soon see their aspirations fade away As their addictions worsen they become and desperate for a fix, going to extreme lengths they would have never stooped to in their purer days Sarah remains on a parallel downward spiral, going back and forth between uppers and downers, practically oblivious to the devastating effects the pills are having on her health.
Selby s depictions of the 80s south Bronx are nightmarish corpses in abandoned buildings, addicts faking each other out just so their lives can be spared The writing style itself lends to atypical punctuation, marathon sentences, and street dialect, yet the style doesn t detract from the book s readability The descriptions and the careful layering of the book s events will leave readers cringing as their hearts break for these characters.
The characters experience little warmth from the outside world of hospitals, medical clinics, and jails While their need to be saved is so obvious, Selby paints a system that methodically grinds their faces in the dirt, whether it be to prejudice, profit, or just general apathy.
In the preface Selby states that the book is about four individuals who pursued the American Dream, and the results of their pursuit He ends the preface with Unfortunately, I suspect there never will be a requiem for the Dream, simply because it will destroy us before we have the opportunity to mourn its passing Perhaps time will prove me wrong As Mr Hemingway said, Isn t it pretty to think so For weeks Tyrone thought he was going to die any minute, and there were also times when he was afraid he wasnt going to die Somehow after watching the movie the book is bearable but still pretty heartbreaking It is a great book if you have the time to actually read it , it s not a book that can be read lightly This books has its ups and downs My best advice is If you don t like the first pages Odds are, you won t like it at all Eventually we all have to accept full and total responsibility for our actions, everything we have done, and have not done.
We all want to have better lives When I was young, I wanted to be a teacher my father said no money in teaching So, I wanted to be an agriculturist he said you will be digging dirt till the day you die So, I wanted to be a priest priests die with their ass dirty as no one takes care of them So, what Why not be a doctorOkay After becoming a medtech, what But he did not have money to send me to a medical school Ha ha ha ha In my iPod, I have this song by The Pussycat Dolls One morning, I had LSS last song syndrome and my daughter caught me singing a part of it She shrieked with joy and laughed out load Strange but songs just get into our heads When I grow upFresh and cleanNumber one chickWhen I step out on the scene Not sure why this song kept on popping in my head while reading this 1978 novel by Hubert Selby, Jr, Requiem for a Dream It is an easy read and each character has its own voice The appropriate emotion in each scene gets reflected on Selby s narration it can get doped with the wrong spelling and narration it can get lonely as you remember how many failed diets you tried and they all did not work it can get orgasmic as Selby makes the lovers moan and moan endlessly and it can get very angry with the junkie son shouting at his poor mama s ears WHATTA YA DOIN TO ME YOUR ONLY SON It is about four dreadful pathetic characters Four Americans in Bronx in the 80s There is middle age, living by herself, obese Sara, the mother who wants to appear on a TV show in an old red dress that her dead husband Seymour really liked on her So, she takes dieting pills until she can fit into that old worn out dress The thinks that being slim means being new and the whole world will discover how wonderful girl she is When I grow upBe on TVPeople know meBe on magazines There is Sara s only son, Harold or Harry and his girlfriend Marion, who, aside from making love twice a day, injecting their veins with cocaine and smoke grass and cigarettes in between, dream of putting up a coffee shop where Marion s paintings she loves to paint and dream of become a famous painter someday can be put on display Then later they can go and tour the whole of Europe When I grow upI wanna see the worldDrive nice carsI wanna have groupies Then there is Tyrone Ty C Love thats ma name babe dreaming of a better life for him and his girl Alice When I grow upBe on TVPeople know meBe on magazines But Harold s and Ty s way of achieving this dream drug pushing Be careful what you wish forCuz you just might get itYou just might get itYou just might get it That s where the song went all wrong They dreamed Wrong way They lost HA HA HA HA Seriously, there is that part in the lyrics.
Man MAN That s some fucked up shit, right there I have so much to say about this book that I don t know where I should start or how to say anything, and last night when I started this review, I was just kind of stuck in a kind of disturbed loss for words And I ve seen the movie and I knew what to expect but I still feel a deep sadness and revulsion and shock after finishing the story It s just traumatizing Brilliant, but traumatizing I ll just go ahead and say now that if you re concerned about spoilers just move on I don t think I can avoid spoilers in this one so continue reading if you want, but don t bitch if you read something you didn t want to know about the book movie It s been many years since I ve seen the movie but it s one that has stuck with me I m sure I m not at all alone in this There are some images and feelings that the movie evoked in me that just stay with me When I hear the title, or even just the word Requiem , these images and feelings surface When I hear music from the Kronos Quartet same thing It s a visceral reaction I didn t recall every moment of the movie, of course, having not seen it for years prior to reading the book But the amount that stuck with me was enough to make this reading experience almost like re watching the movie At least that s how it felt to me as I was reading After I finished the book, I watched the movie again, and though there are some differences some of them major , for the most part, the movie adaptation sits right in the book s lap Right from the start, watching Harry steal his mother s TV to pawn it for dope money, it was like I could see the movie playing in my mind as I read This is a pretty rare situation that I find myself in, though, because I almost feel as though I m comparing the book to the movie, rather than the other way around I usually go out of my way to avoid seeing movies prior to reading the book they are based on if I can help it , but seeing as how I saw this movie first when I was 18 and didn t know it was a book until over a decade later, it makes sense that it would feel this way to me The only other time I ve felt this way was with Children of Men, a movie I really liked and a book I fucking hated Clearly I didn t hate this one, though In fact, I kind of loved it I feel like the movie, while pretty damn accurate to the book, didn t quite have the same depth I feel like the book did a better job at portraying the inner thoughts of the characters especially with Sara The book spends a lot time showing the slow descent into desperation for these addicts The movie kind of seems like a long PSA worst case scenario cautionary tale Do drugs and this is how you could end up And, while that s valid to an extent, and the same could be said about the book, I think the movie almost loses sight of the fact addiction is a disease, it s as much a mental need as a physical one, and it s not just a result of an action like doing drugs or drinking alcohol This is made much clearer in the book, in my opinion The movie touches on it briefly a little scene where Harry and Marion are talking about Sara s TV habit, for instance, but for the most part it just shows the most dramatic and horrifying aspects and kind of doesn t have time for the everyday problems of addiction Side note here There s a lot of stereotyping in the book the Jewish mother figure, her Yenta friends, the late 70s black character, the uber racist South, etc There s a lot of it, and those are just some examples It s extreme But in a way it s necessary, I think This is not a subtle book It s an intense in your face with a 2x4 kind of book, so I think that, if the characters weren t also shown in extremes, it would have felt inconsistent to me But the movie does away with much of that, and I feel like, while the movie s been modernized to a certain degree, it also takes away some, maybe a lot, of the impact.
The movie also glosses over some of the non addiction fueled ugliness shown in the book Sara s care is a big, big, big one to me In the book it s horrifying HORRIFYING The movie portrays the care she receives at the end in a not very patient friendly kind of way but it s still care The doctor tries various things the orderlies are firm almost to the point of being rough but you can see they are trying to help her even if it seems cruel But this is a sanitization of what s portrayed in the book, this horrific situation that Sara, confused, lost in her own starvation and drug induced haze, is put into, where every act of trying to force food into her is almost like rape There s not only a lack of care, it s a lack of human decency and kindness and empathy in general It s frightening and terrifying to think that some bureaucratic pencil pusher can strip someone of their basic human dignity simply to avoid authority conflicts, ignoring what is morally and ethically right Another example is how Tyrone is treated in the south Some of the tone remains in the movie form, but again it s a much milder version In the book, Tyrone and Harry are hated universally once they step foot below the Mason Dixon line They are treated cruelly, as sub human, because they are addicts But Tyrone gets it worse, because not only is he a Yankee addict, but he s a black one They are arrested for vagrancy FUCKING VAGRANCY In the late 70s OMG I saw this word and my stomach clenched It makes me so angry, this mentality that it s OK to abuse someone just because you don t want them in your neighborhood This, as much as anything else in the book, sickens me Arrest them because they have fucking HEROIN in the car Arrest them because they are clearly intoxicated Arrest them for suspected car theft because the car wasn t theirs , or for driving without a license because they live in NY and don t have cars, so why would they need a driver s license or fucking any number of reasons that aren t the most fucked up and discriminatory one ever Arrest them and follow due process, and I can understand But this is horrific hatred that should have ended long before this book was set But of course, that s not how the world works, unfortunately.
The movie shows almost none of that hatred and racism based brutality There s a general tone of suspicion and dislike, and a cruelty in general, but it is not clear as to the reason behind it in the movie, and it isn t even close to the depiction in the book The movie doesn t specify what they are being arrested for, just that they were recognized as addicts and the police were called I actually am disappointed that the overt racism was taken out of the movie There s a scene in the book where they stop for gas, and the gas attendant won t serve them, lies directly to their faces about being out of gas, and that the bathroom is out of order, and spits on them for nothing than because Tyrone is black and Harry is a nigger lover Harry begins to argue, but Tyrone just gets back in the car to leave because he knows, even though he s never experienced this kind of racism before, just how ugly it can get His treatment in jail in the book is It s fucking disgusting, and the movie completely avoids the topic making it look like it s just a cruelty towards addicts, not that it s racism The exception to this kind of softening is Marion s situation The book hints at the play time she participates in With other girls and she didn t know what she d be doing and the smell on her lips and fingers is pretty much all that we get in the book But the movie goes very visual and very pull no punches there To be honest, I was kind of surprised by this, because I expected the book to be grittier and uglier in every way including Marion s willingness to sell herself for her addiction But the movie portrayed that very accurately to the book, just elaborating on that one scene Some other differences though are subtle For instance, a huge amount of scenes where Harry and Tyrone struggled to find dope were skipped over in the movie There s a small reference to this difficulty in the movie, but it comes out of nowhere Their dealer is killed, suddenly and with no explanation, and I feel as though that s supposed to explain the shortage, but that s not the case in the book at all There s a shortage because there is not because there s some sort of sting operation taking down the big dealer So the fear and anger and need that s present is kind of out of place because it s never really shown that there s a city wide shortage and EVERYONE is desperate and has been for months This is kind of the catalyst for the end of the book, and what spurs the decision to try to go to Florida and get weight for their dope security, but it just feels shunted into the movie awkwardly Another subtle change is that Marion and Harry do not have sex in the movie, though in the book they have sex many times, and it s a kind of juxtaposition of how she feels when selling sex for her habit compared to how she feels having sex with Harry The fact that they don t have sex in the movie, I think, is a nod to that relationship that it s than just physical, and that they really do love each other but the addiction, their elephant in the room, overwhelms that connection with a physical and chemical one that is stronger and makes them resent each other In the book, there s no closure, no reconciliation, not even acceptance, as shown in the movie Harry doesn t call Marion from jail, he doesn t even think about her He thinks about his arm and his pain In the hospital, after, he thinks about his arm and his pain It s like the further they get from NY, the further she is from his mind His concern and focus gets smaller and smaller the further he and Tyrone drive, until it s centered on his infection to the exclusion of all else To counter this point, though, is the relationship between Harry and Tyrone In the book, it starts to splinter as well They hold back money and dope from each other, their greedy need taking precedence over their friendship At the end of the book, Tyrone is almost de humanized, in a way Not only because of his addiction and withdrawal causing him to suffer, but also because of the treatment that he experiences in the southern jail, all of which he blames Harry for If he d not suggested this trip if he d not continued shooting into his infected arm if he d done this differently or that differently, Tyrone wouldn t be in this situation In the movie, that resentment doesn t exist In the movie, they are friends till the end or, rather, Tyrone is Harry s friend Harry is sick Tyrone s need is present, and painful, but his friendship and concern for Harry s life trumps that The book not so much In both the book and the movie, poor Sara is alone with her own pain and needs and delusions Her struggles are the most closely matched between the book and the movie She is the character that I feel the most for, and who breaks my heart the most Definitely in the book than the movie, because the book really shows her loneliness and sadness a lot than the movie BUT Ellen Burstyn does a great job filling a lot of those gaps her scene with Harry when he calls her out for being on pills is gut wrenching With four words, you can feel a decade s worth of sadness there I m old I m alone It gives me chills Book Sara doesn t quite have that same power By which I mean that what I feel for her character is a huge amount of empathy, and I feel a mixture of sadness and rage at how her life spirals out of control for want of being wanted and how she has nobody to speak on her behalf or help her But it s of a generalized If this happened to anyone, I would feel this way feeling, rather than an identification with her, if that makes sense I feel for her, and her situation breaks my heart, but really Ellen Burstyn just brings her to life and makes her real and so sad Both the book and the movie have unresolved endings but in the movie it s interesting to note that they throw a little symbolism in there All four characters curl into a fetal position at the end and both women are smiling Both women who have fallen so far down that their only concern is their addiction Sara s had a complete break from reality, and she hallucinates a happy reunion with Harry on TV, and that s all she s really ever wanted anyway Marion is just content that she s got dope, and a regular supply, if she s willing to work for it To her, that s security, and nothing else matters The men are both crying at the end of the movie, because both are thinking about the dreams they ve lost Tyrone, his safe and secure life with a caring, supportive woman his mother and Harry thinking about how things have gone so bad with Marion There s really nothing to hope for with any of them Harry has a habit of drowning his every feeling in heroin, and I don t see that getting easier for him after losing his arm, and his friend, and his girlfriend, and his mother If, by some chance, he actually were to get treatment, he might make it through but where he is, in the South, I don t see anyone making much of an effort for him, given the precedent set so far in how they ve treated him Same with Tyrone, who has lost his friend, his freedom, his dignity, etc If he were to get treatment, he might be OK but if they just release him at the end of his sentence, he d go right back to using And Marion, who has lost just about everything as well, and her life now consists of selling sex to make a score to last her until the next one I think that with her, even if she were to have someone step in and try to help her, it wouldn t do any good She s intelligent and manipulative, and she wants to feel good, not hurt mentally and physically She doesn t have coping mechanisms so I don t see her breaking the cycle either Sara, though, she makes me the saddest, because Harry recognized what was happening, and could have stopped it if he tried, but instead he felt guilt because of the fact that he knew he didn t have the strength of character necessary to support his mother in her need and instead he abandoned her because it was easier than dealing with the situation One last thing I want to talk about is the writing style of the book because I d seen the movie first, as I read, I kept comparing the writing style to the cinematography of the movie I really am impressed, very impressed, with how similar they feel Darren Aronofsky truly captured the feel of the book in the movie But the writing style is messy It worked for the book, because the BOOK is messy It s spastic and urgent and shifting and hazy and the way that the book was written really FEELS that way, to me There are a lot of run on sentences I think the longest I saw was 4 pages long , but they really are put to good use here The 4 pager was the scene where Harry is waiting for Marion to come home after he suggests that Marion ask her shrink for money so they can use it to get some dope to turn around and sell In the book it s 300, by the way Not the 2000 from the movie He sells her for so much less in the book And he goes along with her trips to Big Tim in the book as well that s not just a Harry s gone, what do I do now desperation as it is in the movie He knows what s going on, that first time with the shrink, and he feels sick about it, but not enough to change, not enough to care, really I mean, after all, she agreed to it it s on her now too, right And after that it s like he just distances himself from her scoring method just caring about the fact that they now have a score at all Anyway I digress The 4 pages depict his feelings about what he s sent her out to do, and why, and how he s coping with it, and failing to cope with it, and cycling through all of these emotions that he doesn t want to be feeling but then not wanting to get high because their supply is so limited and unsure, but then not able to avoid it It s like a perfect microcosm of his addiction in a long, long stream of consciousness that just works It s not pretty punctuation use is spotty at best, misspellings abound in a kind of patois that supports the stereotyping Christ is spelled krist , for example , capitalization is iffy, and it s just a mess of chaos like the lives we re reading about And it just worked for me.
This is sloppy on purpose writing, and it really just dragged my eyes along for the ride and I found it hard to look away I read about 70% of this book in one sitting yesterday afternoon because I just couldn t look away The fact that the dialogue was intermixed with the action, and I never knew really who was speaking, or whether it was thought, or hallucination, or dream, or reality only added to the texture of this book It almost didn t matter, because in the end, their dreams were their reality real to them than their reality was, anyway, and somehow the reader gets that I m almost afraid to read Selby s other books now I feel like writing styles like this should be used sparingly, consciously, and intentionally I feel like they should be used to enhance and transform a particular kind of story into an experience for the reader This style, which I thought worked perfectly with this story, did that for me So, I m afraid that, if he just writes like this and CALLS it his style, I d be disappointed, like I d feel like this wasn t intentional choice of style because it told this particular story so well, but instead was just lack of skill, and I would feel misled I bring this up, because I did feel like this after reading and really enjoying Saramago s Blindness I thought that the style there worked beautifully with the story being told But then, I looked his other books, and it was the same style even though the stories were vastly different, and then it just feels gimmicky rather than a deliberate style choice made to fit the story Bah Anyway, for this book, which is the only one I ve read of Selby s, I say it s brilliant and brutal I loved it, but I don t know if I can recommend it I love book that make me feel and this one did, but it s not sunshine and rainbows that I felt, so I d stay away from this one if that s what you re looking for.