Last Exit to Brooklyn


25 Points: Last Exit to Brooklyn

Last Exit to Brooklyn
by Hubert Selby Jr.
Grove Press, 1964
320 pages / $7.95 buy from Powell’s









1. Finished on C train from Bronx to Bed-Stuy.

2. Selby was not lazy, he was smart. Instead of using the shift key more than necessary (I watched a documentary (It/ll Be Better Tomorrow) after reading The Room) coupled with a general diastase for apostrophes, Selby used slashes ( / ) for contraction and left out the possessive (Marys). He also started a paragraph directly below where the previous paragraph ended, i.e., if the previous paragraph ended in the middle of the page, the next paragraph starts a space over from the middle of the page. These types of typographical abnormalities are functional, not revolutionary.

3. People of Last Exit (they are people, not so much characters): pimps, widows, trannies, fairies, strikers, scabs, bullies, gang members, factory workers, MPs, doggies, fathers, policemen, mothers, prostitutes, sons, convicts, daughters, addicts, the confused, the disadvantaged, the struggling, everyone poor, everyone violent in some way. No one this reviewer knows is violent.

4. This is not a political novel that tries to correlate poverty and illegal if not amoral violence. It is a realistic novel defining violence as the inheritance of humanity only brought quicker to the surface due to unrealistically-livable living conditions.

5. “She tilted her head toward the radio and listened to the hard sounds piling up on each other, yet not touching, wanting to hold Vinnies hand, the strange beautiful sounds (bennie, tea and gin too) moving her to a strange romance where love was born of affection, not sex; wanting to share just this, just these three minutes of the Bird with Vinnie, these three minute sour of space and time and just stand together, perhaps their hands touting, not speaking, yet knowing…just stand complete with and for each other not as man and woman or two men, not as friends or lovers, but as two who love…these three minutes together in a world of beauty, a world where there wasnt even a memory of johns or punks, butch queens or Arthurs, just the now of love…” Note: Ellipses are in text, not of this reviewer’s hand.

6. The famous gang-bang scene/sentence is over 1500 words long. When “gang bang” is typed into Redtube’s search window, 1034 videos pop up.

7. People drink beer or gin. Whisky is not overly mentioned.

8. “A cigarette only takes a certain amount of time to smoke and though this takes time it seems to take less and less with each one and you can only smoke so many, there comes a time when you have to stop, when you just cant light the next one…at least not for awhile.”

9. People bump into corners of desks on accident. Then they move on.

10. Last Exit was first published in 1957. Selby was 29. He died in 2004. The year today is 2012. READ MORE >

October 17th, 2012 / 9:11 am