Last Exit to Brooklyn kindle –

An Extraordinary Achievement A Vision Of Hell So Stern It Cannot Be Chuckled Or Raged Aside The New York Times Book ReviewA Classic Of Postwar American Literature, Last Exit To Brooklyn Created Shock Waves Upon Its Release In 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

10 thoughts on “Last Exit to Brooklyn

  1. says:

    A Society of LawsThe pomposity of the literary establishment in the 1960 s was as bad as it ever has been I can recall my encounter, as a twenty year old, with Last Exit But before I bought it, I got a copy of the New York Times review Another Grove Press porno piece, or something roughly equivalent is what I remember So I ignored the book for the next 50 years A big mistake, only to be excused by lack of experience As Sam Goldwyn put it Don t pay any attention to the critics don t even ignore them The fact that the book rates on the filth scale at about the same level as a middling episode of Law Order SVU, proves just how obsessed with limiting literary experience those who controlled the book trade really were Narcissistic street boys, casual prostitutes, transsexuals with authentic feelings and thugs were people who couldn t be taken seriously as people Nor did their views about what constitutes human relationships, especially the language in which those relationships are described, have any place in literary fiction.What amazes and frightens me is how much nothing has changed in the last half century except for a general awareness of the under culture of casual violence and criminality as a way of life There is of course nothing new in its existence except its increasing publicity So the world looks like its gone to hell in a hand basket And the improved visibility of this world is used to justify everything from racism to evangelical revival from the war on drugs to the war on immigrants But it is bunk Selby knew that a substantial portion, often the largest portion, of the civilized world lives in uncivilized conditions And so has it always been, even if the rather civilized portion ignores it.Membership in the under culture is not a choice it s an adaptation to reality The most significant component of that reality is law It is the law that creates the under culture of addicts, street sex workers, and petty thieves who mature into not so petty thieves St Paul, he whose mission was overthrowing the law, had it right when he quotes the law to his own advantage, for sittest thou to judge me after the law, and commandest me to be smitten contrary to the law But Paul had one law on his side Roman citizenship There is no such loophole for those of the under culture The law applied to and in the under culture is essentially arbitrary oppression by the strong of the less strong In that situation, survival means knowing your place, sticking to your assigned role, and accepting your lack of relative strength.The under culture is a culture of victims who accept their status and act in implicit protest with as much malice as they can get away with Hopelessness not love is the most powerful emotional force Love presumes hope it doesn t create it So the law of the under culture is not the law of the jungle In the jungle, there are adaptations of speed, size, coloring, and intelligence that give hope and consequently the opportunity for instinctive love In the under culture, hope is a lethal trait, a delusion that literally kills Despite its grisly content, therefore, Last Exit is a book created out of empathy Selby knew his characters, and he recognized their dilemma adapt or die Since the under culture doesn t change much from generation to generation, what he has to say is as important now as it was then There are many, apparently an increasing number, who share much with Georgette, Shelby s transvestite sacrificial figure, whose life didnt revolve, but spun centrifugally, around stimulants, opiates, johns Postscript A comment by another GR reader provoked a realization by me that Selby had described a process of criminalization of minority groups that is or less traditional in America See

  2. says:

    Harrowing portraits of men hating women, mothers loathing children, the truly devastating absence of love A phenomenal work of art that s raw, revolting, insidious Owes a large debt to the dementedness of M d Sade, though the prose as stark and jarring, as opaque, as a broken shard of obsidian is just damn Beautiful.I can hear from my window some kind of requiem suddenly coming on

  3. says:

    This novel was like a car packed with high explosives and driven into the middle of American literature and left there to explode in a fireball of nitroglycerine sentences containing jagged ugly words which could shear your mind in two I can t believe how powerful it still is, I read it years ago and it seared my thoughts and turned me inside out, and it practically did the same again even though a lot of cruelty and evil violence and scenes of underclass horror have flowed from other writers of other fictions since 19641964, year of the cheeky moptops singing I want to hold your hand and the year of Last Exit to Brooklyn in which we meet teenage hooker Tralala Two years later it was published in Britain and immediately prosecuted for obscenity and found guilty and withdrawn Then it was cleared on appeal When I look at the title page of my hardback copy I find it s the first 1966 British edition, the one that was busted Hey I m rich No, it hasn t got a dust jacket, so it s probably still worth the two quid I paid for it instead of the 100 I d get with the dust jacket What a crazy world But I m not selling anyway This is a great novel but its greatness is difficult The difficulty does not lie in its famous non punctuation I nearly went into shock when I spotted an apostrophe in the word we re on page 57 it was such an obvious misprint and busted up Brooklynese syntax Goldie lit a few candles and told her Sheila was turning a trick so they had come down here and Im sure you don t mind honey, handing her some bennie, and told Rosie to make coffee Rosie lit the small kerosene stove in the kitchen and put on a pot of coffee When it was ready she passed out paper cups of coffee then went back to the kitchen and made another pot, continuing to make pot after pot of coffee, coming in inbetween to sit at goldies feet The guys slowly snapped out of their tea goof and soon the bennie got to their tongues too and everybody yakked.This is not difficult The prose flows hypnotically from almost boring and then and then and then narrative to dialogue to interior monologue and back again without any breaks The minutely described incidents trundle along and without warning violence erupts and the violence is then described in the same slightly stoned unemotional way Selby makes no judgements, he s just on a mission to tell you about this stuff he knows and he knows you don t know So this book s difficulty comes from the constant depiction of degeneration, the unredeemed bleakness and horribleness of Selby s truthtelling, that all the characters are relentlessly graceless, nasty, violent, or nervewrackingly stupid, and that their lives both internal and external are revealed pitilessly to our flinching ears, that the men appear to hate the women, that the couples all have babies and children who they find unbearable, that there s never any money which causes most of the bitterness, that there s never any love And here s the other difficulty The two longest and greatest of the intertwined stories are the Queen is Dead and Strike Both depict gay men and both I think enshrine the worst possible images of gay men That night Harry went to the dragball Hundreds of fairies were there dressed as women, some having rented expensive gowns, jewelry and fur wraps They pranced about the huge ballroom calling to each other, hugging each other, admiring each other, sneering disdainfully as a hated queen passed O just look at the rags she s wearing She looks like a bowery whore Well, lets face it, its not the clothes She would look simply ugly in a Dior original, and they would stare contemptuously and continue prancing.In Strike Selby gives us a guy who finds out he s gay and goes through a horrible personal meltdown during which he performs a sex attack on a ten year old boy.So Selby has prancing fairies in drag and he has a gay man attacking a child Underneath its avant style, Last Exit is about as politically incorrect as its possible to be You really can t say that, Hubert.Of course there was a tradition in literature of dragging the people of the abyss into the light of day Zola and Dostoyevsky in Europe, Jack London and Sinclair Lewis in the USA But Selby makes those guys look like mealymouthed tergiversators, which they really weren t Selby s amplifier goes to 11, not ten like everyone else s His book is a white hot shriek of pain It s awful.Last Exit s influence has been massive Andy Warhol s early films and Lou Reed s Velvet Underground songs start here Sister Ray is like a scene from Strike , likewise his New York album Madame George by Van Morrison likewise Last Exit also bequeathed Trainspotting to us and fortunately Irvine Welsh was able to suffuse great humour and pity into his tales of junkie scumbags It s five stars from me, but I don t know if I d honestly recommend it to anyone.

  4. says:

    This book is an assault Thematically it s an assault Stylistically it s an assault Emotionally it s an assault.So reading Last Exit to Brooklyn and enjoying it, like I very much did, could be akin to a kind of literary Stockholm syndrome.Less a novel and a collection of vignettes, Selby Jr s first major work is a dark, depressing, visceral, gruff, and scroungy account of the lives of some of the most depraved and tragic characters this side of Shakespeare Perhaps the most famous book to be banned in the UK in the 60s, along with Lady Chatterley s Lover However the content of Last Exit makes Lawrence s novel look like The Gruffalo.Written in a style that I can only describe as somewhere between Kerouac and nonsense, the book takes the reader hostage Due to its style it is nearly impossible to skim this book, or not give it your full attention So you are forced to read every single word in order for any of it to make sense Which means you are forced to witness every murder, every rape, every mutilation, and every single blowjob In many ways it reminded me of Burgess A Clockwork Orange, both are written using difficult prose and both do their best to completely destroy the reader.I like to think that I m not easily shocked, that it would take something truly bleak for me to be disturbed I mean, I m someone who was left pretty disappointed at how tame Sal seems now During 2 Girls 1 Cup I just feel sorry for the cleaner But there s one story in here, Tralala, that once I finished it, I had to say, well fuck me Bleak doesn t even begin to cover it.Obviously this book will not be for everyone There s literally rapes than full stops But it does wonderfully capture that odd time in American literature The 60s Post Beats, mid Vietnam, pre psychedelia A time when really anything went And it did And this is the result.

  5. says:

    Rare is the book that leaves me so disoriented and raw nerved When I finished this I sat slack jawed for a minute letting my cigarette burn out and trying to fix my mind on something anything This is an excruciatingly penetrating vision of the total dregs a narrative of self delusion, rough trade, addiction and thanatos thanatos thanatos Selby, Jr never seems to slant toward exploitation or pulp and strangely enough, in spite of the godawful hopeless hate filled suckers that populate his writing, seems to have some sort of very real and desperate heart I didn t like the characters you can t but oh god did I want to stop with the beating into senselessness, I really really wanted them to claw out some bitty iota of self awareness, life force, something anything Do I sound like some dumbfuck blurb or what Whatever Read this.

  6. says:

    I read Last Exit to Brooklyn a few years ago, when I actually lived in the titular city and tried to run a regular drinking session where my friends and I discussed incest book club I chose this book for its reputation, a trusted friend s personal recommendation, and because Hubert Selby Jr also wrote Requiem for a Dream never read, love the movie Though I generally have a sunny disposition, I also have a penchant for sad songs, movies about addiction, and slutty women It is a reflection of a core that doesn t usually see the light of day, one that stays hidden mostly due to an annoying need to be liked by the entire human race unless you are really close to me, then I will abuse you much than the people I hate.This novel has acquired cult status level for the same reasons that a lot of other creative works have It exploits a variety of taboo subjects here we have sex, drugs, and a metric fuckton of violence Gay sex, Bible quotes, alcoholism, spousal abuse it s all there, set to the backdrop of a long ago Brooklyn, glorified by the relative newcomers for being real, authentic These particular readers are trying to erase their own roots for their own reasons, and in the mindless appropriation of all things related to their newly adopted city, piles of thick rimmed black glasses are left too dirty too see what this book is actually made of.Hubert Selby, Jr writes strangely yet evocatively, and Last Exit is obviously meant to represent a largely ignored in literature published before 1964 class of human.The New York Times Book Review says it is An extraordinary achievement a vision of hell so stern it cannot be chuckled or raged aside Harry T Moore says 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 Imagine a hundred reviews like these The above two were lifted directly from the book s page, which proves that the novel is being marketed in such a way as to cement it as a classic of postwar American writing To appeal to those of us attracted to sad songs, addiction, and slutty women To appeal to those who identify with, or at least try to project an image of identifying with, the seedy underbelly of life.The problem with this is that they are looking to explore the seedy underbelly of a city that is a seedy underbelly itself Synopsis credit, Wikipedia, obviously Last Exit to Brooklyn is divided into six parts that can, or less, be read separately Another Day, Another Dollar A gang of young Brooklyn hoodlums hang around an all night cafe and get into a vicious fight with a group of US Army soldiers on leave The Queen Is Dead Georgette, a transvestite hooker, is thrown out of the family home by her brother and tries to attract the attention of a hoodlum named Vinnie at a benzedrine driven party And Baby Makes Three An alcoholic father tries to keep good spirits and maintain his family s marriage traditions after his daughter becomes pregnant and then marries a motorcycle mechanic Tralala The title character of an earlier Selby short story, she is a young Brooklyn prostitute who makes a living propositioning sailors in bars and stealing their money In perhaps the novel s most notorious scene, she is gang raped after a night of heavy drinking Strike Harry, a machinist in a factory, becomes a local official in the union A closeted homosexual, he abuses his wife and gets in fights to convince himself that he is a man He gains a temporary status and importance during a long strike, and uses the union s money to entertain the young street punks and buy the company of drag queens Landsend Described as a coda for the book, this section presents the intertwined, yet ordinary day of numerous denizens in a housing project.Like I said evocative Not to mention the author s distinct neglect of proper grammar and literary conventions However, as I quickly thumbed through the pages of this surprisingly fast read, all the deep, dark, supposed truths of how people really lived rang so empty that I became disgusted by all the fucking tricks he was using He skipped the subtle yet infinitely powerful inner darkness of things, to focus on dry, famously colloquial accounts of girls getting gang raped, girls being beaten, transvestites slogging through life on benzies, etc etc ETC.It brought another of our book club selections to the forefront for comparison Truman Capote s Breakfast at Tiffany s I didn t love this book either, but for all its shallowness Capote nailed the dialogue head on It sounded like actual people talking Last Exit s supposed mastery of the same thing is a complete farce.This was my original review, from 2009 I thought it was successful in its goals, and innovative, and very interesting structurally and it affected me profoundly However, I couldn t get past the violence and single mindedness of this book In its realistic ness I found no reality, if that makes sense I gave it 3 stars originally, but I will reduce it to 2.I still stand by that short and sweet account, but I have finally figured out where my intense dislike for NAY, repulsion towards, this novel comes from.The Brooklyn of this book is not my Brooklyn I don t think it was the Brooklyn of its characters, or the Brooklyn of 1964 If there is one goddamn thing I have learned about life, it s that it s hard, and full of things and people that make you feel bad There is a yin to that yang however, and sometimes the hardest shit reveals beauty than any empty life of ease and luxury could offer I would have found Last Exit to Brooklyn believable and real if Georgette the transvestite had found some solace in her friends, if Selby Jr had included moments of muddled joy in between the raucous, never ending torment and hard hitting unlikeability of the characters My Brooklyn was sweaty migrant workers broiling in the relentless August sun, yes, but who knows what unholy hell they escaped from Brooklyn was and is empty, drugged out eyes at parties, quick fucks in bar bathrooms, countless empty mornings robbed of endorphins tempered by the heady highs of pursuing Dionysian fun The terror of a walk home in Bed Stuy at 3 am folds its leaf over gently and reveals the awesome beauty of a walk in Park Slope on a glorious May afternoon Brooklyn is a million things so is every other city.Do you see my point This book neglects the roundness of life It cuts corners and goes for shock value instead That s not authenticity, and those who loved this book because it was real and authentic should reevaluateeverything.They say any press is good press

  7. says:

    Had I read this at the time of release in 1964 it would have seemed like being struck by a lightning bolt from hell where one was made to feel sick, disgusted and appalled by it s graphic depiction of pretty much the worst that human behaviour has to offer Fast forward to 2015 and nothing has changed, this is a shocking, gut wrenching read which creates a vision of hell on earth for a bunch of New Yorkers who are just about as far away from the american dream as possible Selby Jr was a genius in my view, he really had a pair of balls to even be thinking of putting pen to paper and you truly do stand up and take notice You want to run and hide but you can t, you want the pain to stop, but it doesn t, you want the book to end, but you don t, then you start to think, hang on a minute this guy has got a point, this is human nature whether we refuse to believe it or not, this IS real life in all it s horrible glory, and a wake up call for all those who think america is a big fat cream cake sprinkled with stardust and a cherry on top.

  8. says:

    Good God, this is a brutal book The writing style s brilliant, but the stories are so vivid that the pain of the characters is visceral It s not a novel so much as it s a series of short stories that tie together to portray the hell hole that was 1950 s Brooklyn There was a whole obscenity case about this book when it was published in the early 1960 s the story that received the most attention for being obscene, however, was not the one I found most painful The most infamous story was Tralala , which is about a teenage girl who slowly destroys herself and is destroyed by others as she uses her body for male attention and for money However, her character was not as sympathetic as that of Georgette in The Queen is Dead This is one of a few stories written in a hybrid first third person stream of consciousness style, which makes you feel for Georgette, a young gay man and sort of transsexual Overall, it s amazing how words on a page can break your heart, but Last Exit to Brooklyn definitely does.

  9. says:

    HIGHEST RECOMMENDATION Grabbed this from my stash Saturday evening and started blazing through it, rapt Could not put it down Finished SundayUncompromising portrait of petty slothfulness and violence in grim Brooklyn in the 1950s The 1989 Jennifer Jason Leigh film was fine and disturbing, but it can t capture the earnest immediacy of this book and the machine gun style of expression of the colloquialisms and the stream of consciousness This is masterly, it seems to have flowed off Selby s fingers the way Kerouac s On the Road did No quote marks or identification of speakers, but they re not needed because it makes sense without all that Books this good sometimes make me question the need for punctuation, actually I actually had difficulty trying to start this book in the past, but reading Joyce s Ulysses has raised my reading comprehension level greatly, so this thing flows like buttah.The terms gay and Miss Thing were already in use in 1957 Who knew This is raw and frank and vivid and emotionally harrowing The cold amorality of the city Selby s expression is refreshingly free he s a genius at depicting squalorIt s a world of coffee in styrofoam cups and queens who suck cum out of used condoms found in the parkThis could end up being a favorite Let s see.UPDATE More than halfway through now Strike, which takes up the entire middle third of the book, is the kind of proletarian literature one rarely encounters A real, on the ground look at a brutish, closeted gay married shop steward, swaggering like a little Caesar, trying to draw attention to his pathetic selfIt s rare to see labor and unions depicted so unflatteringly in American literature It s nice for a change to see actual WORK LIFE depicted in a book Too often we get the after hours doings of characters and nothing in novels, always the sex bits and never the workaday stuff that takes up most of our daily lives Gotta respect this Great historical value in this book as well I d add this along with The Jungle and Christ in Concrete to the list of best prole lit.This part of the story starts with a hint of gay pedophilia and ends with an overt act of same Not much that Selby shies fromAlso must note, Strike is written in somewhat a conventional style by comparison to the preceding chapters Omniscent narrator and punctuation, though a lot of ellipses like that Also, a must in the realm of gay queer lit in its evocation of gay bars, drag balls, rough trade, and repressed sexuality taking the form of violence and compensatory extreme male hetero behavior.The heroes of the book, if there can be said to be any, are the stoic, browbeaten women Selby s portraits of women are by and large sympathetic, even in the face of the menfolk s rampant misogyny Women also are seen as sexual beings who want orgasms as much as men I doubt this was commonly admitted in much other lit in 1957.The last section of the book, Landsend is a concentrated portrait of a half dozen family tenants in the tenement block, alternating stories of the same characters Heartbreaking vignettes The old woman, Ada, probably the only truly sympathetic character in the novel Selby s depiction of her reality is lyrical, perhaps the only real lyricism in the book It gave me chills.This is a classic Definitely a new favorite.

  10. says:

    A searing sift through the slurried slums of post war Brooklyn The only book that uses shock, violence and vulgarity to depict a world of tragic isolation that truly pierces the heart, gets you so deeply you feel you are THERE, in this boneyard of brittle bones and broken bodies, crying and fighting and fucking and SHOUTING AT YER FREAKIN KIDS TA SHUT THERE TRAPS Selby s editor on this book was Gilbert Sorrentino, who helped Selby refine his extraordinarily precise style, his pitch perfect dialogue, distinctive abuse and misuse of punctuation, his staggering pacing His essay in the collection Something Said illuminates the construction of these elegant art bombs, unlocking the complexity and beauty in Selby s compostions.Best Brooklyn novel, bar none.