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Last Exit to Brooklyn (Evergreen Book) Paperback – January 13, 1994


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Product Details

  • Series: Evergreen Book
  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Grove Press (January 13, 1994)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 9780802131379
  • ISBN-13: 978-0802131379
  • ASIN: 0802131379
  • Product Dimensions: 8.2 x 5.4 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (112 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #65,128 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

"An extraordinary achievement . . . a vision of hell so stern it cannot be chuckled or raged aside.”—The New York Times Book Review

“As dramatic and immediate as the click of a switchblade knife.”—Los Angeles Times

“The raw strength and concentrated power of Last Exit to Brooklyn make it one of the really great works of fiction about the underground labyrinth of our cities.”—Harry T. Moore

Last Exit to Brooklynshould explode like a rusty hellish bombshell over America and still be eagerly read in a hundred years.”—Allen Ginsberg

“Drops like a sledgehammer. Emotionally beaten, one leaves it a different person—slightly changed, educated by pain, as Goethe said.”—The Nation

“Selby has an unerring instinct for honing our collapse into novels as glittering and as cutting as pure, block, jagged glass.”—Saturday Review

“Scorching, unrelenting, pulsing.”—Newsweek

“The marriage of brutal street life and gorgeous bebop prose.” —Richard Price, from his “My Five Most Essential Books,” published in Newsweek (April 13, 2009)

From the Inside Flap

The first novel to articulate the rage and pain of life in "the other America," Last Exit to Brooklyn is a classic of postwar American writing. Selby's searing portrait of the powerless, the homeless, the dispossessed, is as fiercely and frighteningly apposite today as it was when it was first published more than thirty-five years ago.

"An extraordinary achievement,...a vision of hell so stern it cannot be chuckled or raged aside."--The New York Times Book Review

"As dramatic and immediate as the click of a switchblade knife."--Los Angeles Times

"The raw strength and concentrated power of Last Exit to Brooklyn make it one of the really great works of fiction about the underground labyrinth of our cities."--Harry T. Moore

"Last Exit to Brooklyn should explode like a rusty hellish bombshell over America and still be eagerly read in a hundred years."--Allen Ginsberg

"Drops like a sledgehammer. Emotionally beaten, one leaves it a different person-slightly changed, educated by pain, as Goethe said."--The Nation

"Selby has an unerring instinct for honing our collapse into novels as glittering and as cutting as pure, black, jagged glass."--Saturday Review

"Scorching, unrelenting, pulsing."--Newsweek

Hubert Selby, Jr. was born in Brooklyn in 1928. Last Exit to Brooklyn, his first novel, was originally published in 1964. He has since written five other novels, The Room, The Demon, Requiem for a Dream, and The Willow Tree, and a collection of short stories, Song of the Silent Snow. Mr. Selby lives in Los Angeles.


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Customer Reviews

Nobody does it like Selby especially when it comes to his style of writing.
J. Wilson
Read this one, it's the kind of book you can't get off your mind for days after you've finished...
Drew Hunkins
One thing that really bugged me about this book was the endings of it's stories.
Amelia

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

87 of 92 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on October 17, 1997
Format: Paperback
I first read LAST EXIT when I was in junior high school, having discovered it mixed in with a cache of other books in my mother's library. I read it twice in a week, then a few more times, more slowly, over the following months. Selby crashed into my life like a meteor smacking into the earth -- literally, like someone from another world, which was what he was reporting to me. He wrote about the life in the city around him, which ruined many and forced some to ruin others, and starved people for love and made them turn to hateful substitutes. He also wrote unflinchingly about sexual agony, something I hadn't seen addressed honestly in any fiction at all until I'd read him. He also wrote with great empathy; he didn't hate any of his characters, even the vilest ones, but wanted to give them all a clear moment in the sun for us to see. I've gone on to recommend this book to others that I know will be moved and stunned by it, and they've in turn done the same to others they know. A lot of people will reflexively dismiss the book as disgusting or depressing, but I'll say this: what's more depressing? Reading an honest depiction of the worst and the best in us, or reading something that chooses to ignore the whole question in the first place? Selby will be remembered and loved for a long time after the louder, shallower, more immediate authors of our age are left to rot.
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84 of 89 people found the following review helpful By Anne Rice on June 5, 2004
Format: Paperback
This is a work of sheer genius by anyone's standards. Yes, it's raw, it's shocking even to those of us who thought nothing in modern fiction could shock us but it's one brilliantly sustained song of the brutal, the outcast, the desperate, and at times the cruel who exist inside all of us. I read it over and over again hearing it in my head aloud. I lose it for a few years, then grab it up again. The rhythm of the sentences is perfection. It's for all the time, and the movie -- though a different entity altogether -- was pretty damned fine too. Of course it couldn't be the book. No. It couldn't be quite that dark. Yet it had its own magnificently wrought violence. Selby sings! Here's to him from another writer!
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44 of 47 people found the following review helpful By Robin Friedman HALL OF FAMETOP 100 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on January 22, 2001
Format: Paperback
Selby's first book was published in the late 1950s. It was subject to an obscenity trial in England although it escaped U.S. censors unscathed. The book was reissued in 1988, coinciding with the release of a movie loosely based upon it. The book's dark vision remains with the passage of time. Not a book for the squeamish, faint-hearted, or for the conventional.
The book is a series of loosely related stories of varying length taking place in the tenements of Brooklyn. Many of the incidents center around an odius local bar known as "the Greeks" and its patrons. The longest story, "Strike" is about a long and ugly labor dispute and its effect on Harry, a worker and the strike organizer, on his marriage and on his sense of sexual identity. The story is detailed, sordid, violent, and fascinating. Other stories explore the world of cheap hookers, transvestites, drug users, petty crooks and drunks. The stories are raw told in a crude language of the streets appropriate to their subject matter.
The book reminded me of the early work of probably my favorite novelist, the Victorian writer George Gissing, in its concentration of the underlife in our cities. There is little of the express vulgarity and sexual crudity in the Victorian writer, but I think Gissing and Selby would have understood each other nonetheless.
This book is a disturbing picture of low life, partly written in the language and mores of its times but transcending that. There is little in the way of hope or love in the book and I think that the author wants to show us the consequences of a lack or hope and love. It is a book that in a materialist age can teach compassion in a language and style that pulls for attention. It is very sad, but the book invites and demands reflection. It shows us what is missing. This is probably a book that will be remembered in the literary history of America.
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16 of 16 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on October 31, 2000
Format: Paperback
The mind simply boggles at the thought that "Last Exit To Brooklyn" should have been published in the 50s. It isn't hard to imagine the storm of controversy it created by its flagrant use of overtly sexual and lewd language. Its undeniable shock value notwithstanding, the novel is still regarded today as a classic for its blistering account of life on the other side of the tracks. The novel is full of unsavoury characters consisting of brutes, louts, pimps and whores. They inhabit a world where the sun never shines. They are all doomed. Georgette, the transvetite, Tralala, the town whore and most fascinatingly Harry, the union leader with a terrible secret even he doesn't know and pays for it when he does. Told through a series of loosely connected vignettes, Hubert Selby Junior's pitiless account of these wretched lives is so brutally honest it hurts to read. His prose is unconventional, utilising a combination of vernacular and "speak write" that has the dizzy immediacy of a screenplay. He switches between the first and third person with hardly the skip of a beat. As a novel, it's a mesmerising and compelling read. I couldn't put it down. Its cinematic possibilities have also been exploited and mined to the fullest some years back in a film version that is remarkably faithful to and captures brilliantly the essence of Selby's novel. The film has deservedly become a cult classic. I am only amazed the director didn't take advantage of the cinematic potential of Selby's last chapter, in which he indulges his voyeuristic licence to its fullest. Robert Altman would have had his camera cutting across the skyline and zooming in turns on the developing chaos within each household in the Brooklyn neighbourhood. "Last Exit To Brooklyn" may still be an uncomfortable read for some today. It's strong stuff, but those with the stomach for it will find it a wonderful read. A true modern classic.
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