Wednesday, April 28, 2004
Los Angeles Hubert Selby Jr., the acclaimed and anguished author of "Last Exit to Brooklyn" and "Requiem for a Dream," died Monday of a lung disease, his wife said. He was 75.
Selby died of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease at his home in the Highland Park section of Los Angeles, said his wife of 35 years, Suzanne.
Born in New York City, Selby's experience among Brooklyn's gritty longshoremen, homeless and the down-and-out formed the basis for his lauded 1964 novel "Last Exit to Brooklyn," which was made into a film in 1989.
"It was a seminal piece of work. It broke so many traditions," said Jim Regan, head of the master's of professional writing program at the University of Southern California, where Selby taught as an adjunct professor for the past 20 years.
"There was that generation of writers: William Burroughs, Henry Miller, and there was Hubert Selby. And he's one of the last of that generation, of some of the greatest writers in this country."
Suzanne Selby said her late husband was kind and generous but in recent years suffered from depression and occasionally would launch into rages.
"He screamed, he yelled, he broke things," she said. "But he did not have rages when he was writing."
Selby shared screenwriting credit on the 2000 film version of his 1978 novel "Requiem for a Dream," a harrowing look inside a family's many addictions. His other novels include "The Room" (1971), "The Demon" (1976) and "The Willow Tree" (1998). A collection of short stories, "Song of the Silent Snow," was published in 1986.
Along with his wife, he is survived by four children and 11 grandchildren.