Requiem for a Dream | Hubert Selby JR.


I usually skip the forward, preface, and any page marked with a roman numeral. When I’m reading a book, I want to read the actual book, starting at Page 1. Except here.

With Requiem For A Dream, I did anything and everything I could do AVOID getting to Page 1. Because I had seen the movie. Anyone who knows this title is already cringing.

The book was originally written in the 1970s, so there are some slight time differences, but much of that is basically background. And for most of the book, I’d say the visual medium gave it much more, ummmm, not really grit. It made it more visceral. And so for much of the book I had it clearly placed in “The Movie Was Better” category. But then in the last 50 pages, the lack of visual effects allowed the reader to balance both the grotesqueness of the plot with its emotional/psychological horror. Instead of watching Sara suffer shock treatments, you can feel her pain as she sits in her own excrement for two days, strapped to a wheelchair, letting the tears flow. Rather than Tyrone being hauled off to prison, you first travel with him and Harry down to Florida, their trip south mirroring the trip into depravity – each of them hoping, praying inside, that the other will suggest stopping and turning back. And rather than suffer through the sexual humiliation of Marion, you watch with astonishment as she uses the heroin to justify and gloss over her actions.

The most disturbing movie I’ve ever seen, and the book disturbs in a different but just as strong way.

Book 65 of 189


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