Top 10 Hubert Selby, Jr. Quotes

"[E]very second of every day, people are being born, people are dying, which means whatever this 'it' is, changes. It’s in constant change, constant flux. Yet, I want to keep it still . . . And I think that’s the source of so many of my problems, and I guess you could say the world’s problems, is that we’re trying to control it, instead of just surrendering to it." —Interview, Rain Taxi Review of Books, December 1999

#09 - TIME
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Time has to pass. But sometimes its so goddamn long. Sometimes it just seems to drag and drag and weigh a ton. And hang on you like a monkey. Like its going to suck the blood out of you. Or squeeze your guts out. And sometimes it flies. And is gone somewhere, somehow, before you know it was even here. As if time is only here to make you miserable. That's the only reason for time. To squeeze you. Crush you. To tie you up in knots and make you fucking miserable.” —The Room, 1971


"I went into the hospital in 1946, with advanced tuberculosis, and altogether I spent three and a half years in the hospital. By the time I got out I had had 10 ribs removed, one lung collapsed, a piece of the other one removed, and there were some severe complications from an experimental drug that was used to keep me alive. During these years I was given up for dead several times. One doctor told me that I could not live, I just didn't have enough lung capacity, and I should just go home and sit quietly and I would soon be dead. Now, I am blessed with a rotten attitude, and my response to statements of this nature is, Fuck you, no one tells me what to do!" —"Why I Continue to Write," LA Weekly, February 24, 1999

#07 - SLEEP

“He fought despairingly to go deeper into the blackness of a sleep, any sleep, even the sleep of death or some form of non-existence, but even with the loss of consciousness he dreamt he was awake, lying on the bed trying desperately to sleep. If he could find some way to prove that time had passed, no matter how short that time, he could tell himself that he had slept and perhaps then, just perhaps, he would feel rested.” – The Room, 1971


"Anyway, I was sitting at home and had a profound experience, I experienced, in all of my Being, that someday I was going to die, and it wouldn't be like it had been happening, almost dying but somehow staying alive, but I would just die! And two things would happen right before I died: I would regret my entire life; I would want to live it over again. This terrified me. The thought that I would live my entire life, look at it and realize I blew it forced me to do something with my life. This did not make me a writer, but provided the incentive to discover that I am a writer." —"Why I Continue to Write," LA Weekly, February 24, 1999


"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." —Requiem for a Dream, 1978


"Writing, like any art, is a continuing process of discovering the infinite possibilities of Life. A blank piece of paper can be terrifying. It can also be exciting when ideas, images and sounds come together and sing off the page. For me there is no other experience like it. When I just touch the keyboard a part of me comes to life that at one time I did not know existed." —"Why I Continue to Write," LA Weekly, February 24, 1999


“Obviously, I believe that to pursue the American Dream is not only futile but self-destructive because ultimately it destroys everything and everyone involved with it. By definition it must, because it nurtures everything except those things that are important: integrity, ethics, truth, our very heart and soul. Why? The reason is simple: because Life/life is giving, not getting.” —Requiem for a Dream, 1978


"Being an artist doesn’t take much, just everything you got. Which means, of course, that as the process is giving you life, it is also bringing you closer to death. But it’s no big deal. They are one in the same and cannot be avoided or denied. So when I totally embrace this process, this life/death, and abandon myself to it, I transcend all this meaningless gibberish and hang out with the gods. It seems to me that that is worth the price of admission." —"Why I Continue to Write," LA Weekly, February 24, 1999


“Sometimes we have the absolute certainty there's something inside us that's so hideous and monstrous that if we ever search it out we won't be able to stand looking at it. But it's when we're willing to come face to face with that demon that we face the angel.” —Last Exit to Brooklyn, 1964

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