A womanizer’s struggle for self-control spirals into crime, madness, and murder
Harry White grew up in blue-collar Brooklyn, but the young man’s charm, smarts, and good looks have helped him earn a place as an uptown junior executive. White’s gifts have also made his love life easy, and he takes special pleasure in seducing married women. But when “Harry the Lover” is ready to grow up and leave his womanizing behind, White finds that suppressing his libido has dangerous consequences. His attempts at restraint awaken something sinister, causing White to seek excitement in a new form of violence and depravity. Shocking and enthralling, The Demon is an unflinching meditation on male vanity by one of the most acclaimed and original writers of the twentieth century. This ebook features an illustrated biography of Hubert Selby Jr. including rare photos from the author’s estate.
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About the Author
Hubert Selby Jr. (1928–2004) was a celebrated author of nine novels, including the classic bestseller Last Exit to Brooklyn. His other novels include Requiem for a Dream, The Room, and The Demon. Selby’s fiction, which was championed by writers such as William S. Burroughs and Allen Ginsberg, was noted for its gritty portrayal of addiction and urban despair, and has influenced generations of authors, artists, and musicians. Born and raised in Brooklyn, Selby died in Los Angeles in 2004.
Read an Excerpt
By Hubert Selby Jr.
OPEN ROAD INTEGRATED MEDIACopyright © 2003 Hubert Selby, Jr.
All rights reserved.
His friends called him Harry the Lover. But Harry would not screw just anyone. It had to be a woman ... a married woman.
They were less trouble. When they were with Harry, they knew what they were there for. No wining or dining. No romancing. If they expected this, they were sadly mistaken; and if they started asking questions about his life or indicated in any way that they wanted to start an "affair," he went his merry way. Harry did not want any involvements or encumbrances, no hassles. He wanted what he wanted when he wanted it, then leave with a smile on his face and a wave of the hand.
Taking a married woman to bed provided an additional thrill. Not the thrill of stealing another mans woman, Harry was not interested in that, but the thrill of having to take certain precautions so you would not be discovered. Never knowing exactly what might happen increased the excitement of apprehension.
From time to time Harry White would stretch out in his minds eye and reflect upon the many relationships jeopardized because of confused or poor sexual relations. Why, there must be millions of women living on tranquilizers because of sexual frustrations. And how about the thousands, or hundreds of thousands, who are in mental institutions because of emotional breakdowns due directly to an unsatisfying or nonexistent love life? Think of those broken homes and motherless children struggling in an unhappy world simply for want of an orgasm.
Harry was not what one would call a womans libber, but he did think the double standard grossly unfair. After all, it is a known, and accepted, fact that most men cheat, as they say, on their wives, that they like to go out with the boys and get a "strange piece." Yet, the wife is supposed to stay home at night and take care of the children and beg her night-out-with-the-boys husband to make love to her occasionally. And if she should choose not to wait for his occasional and inept and mostly unsatisfying favors, but should find an occasional, shall we say, replacement, she is vilified, denounced, beaten, divorced or even, sad to say, killed. No, Harry was not a womans libber, but he was aware of the injustice of such situations.
And, in his small and humble way, he did what he could to rectify the situation, or at least, in some measure, ameliorate it. Actually, Harry felt he provided a very valuable service. Who knows how many marriages he may have helped with his ministrations? He may have saved more than just marriages, he may have saved lives too. Who knows how many women are alive and well because the pent-up tensions, anxieties and frustrations were not allowed to build to the point of insanity or death, but were punctured by Harry White in hot pursuit of his avocation?
Although Harry worked in midtown Manhattan, and had to spend almost two hours a day traveling to and from work, he continued to live in Brooklyn with his parents. Many times, especially on an eye cloudy Monday after an exceptionally active weekend, he thought of moving, of getting a place nearer work where he might be only a short, leisurely bus ride from the office, but by the time he had gotten the rest needed to give him the energy to go through the hassle of looking, the urgency was gone. He would think about the pros and cons and study the situation studiously and analytically and then decide against it. As he saw it there were basically two possibilities to be considered in looking for an apartment of his own:
1. to have a roommate; or
2. to live alone.
Now, with the first there are obviously two considerations:
Actually, this does not have to be considered at all. A female roommate is out of the question. If she were merely a friend, it would not remain platonic for long.
And, if she were more than just a friend, which in time she would be, it would definitely complicate Harrys life style. Obviously, no thought was needed in dismissing this possibility.
So we are left with the possibility of sharing an apartment with another guy. What are the advantages? Well, actually there is only one: You split the rent and so can get a nicer apartment.
Actually, thats not much of an advantage. Harry earned an excellent salary, and so that consideration was unimportant.
What are the disadvantages? Many. You would have to depend on him to pay his share of the bills. He might have a girlfriend who will eventually come on to you, and that will create countless problems.... And numerous other reasons. But the one reason that obviates evaluating the others was that Harry definitely did not want to have his life governed, or inconvenienced, in any way by the desires or needs of others.
So, that leaves the second consideration, as obviously Harry would have to live alone. What are the advantages of that?
None, except for the shorter ride to and from work. He certainly could not bring any women home with him. The last thing in the world he wanted would be to have some woman know where he lived. My God, they would never leave him alone. He could just see it: they would be calling him day and night or knocking on his door when those ants invaded their pants. Or after an argument with their husband they would tell him that they were leaving, that they found a wonderful man who will take care of them and the children and—O, no. No. No thank you.
So, where does that leave you? It leaves you exactly where you are now, except you have the additional expense, and the various concerns, of an apartment. You would still be going to their house, or one of their friends, or a hotel, and using your apartment for sleep and an occasional rest. No, tactically it did not make sense.
And pragmatically it did not make any sense either. Living with his parents he did not have to cook, clean, shop, worry about what he might have to pick up on the way home for this or that, all of which dissipated energy, and he wanted to conserve his energy for the more important things in life.
And, in addition to all the other considerations, there was the fact that he was an only child and it made his folks happy to have him living at home.
Harry had analyzed the situation, and looked at it from every conceivable angle often enough to realize that it did not make any sense to move.
And underneath all of Harry Whites logic and careful analysis, and beyond his conscious awareness, was a little germ that tugged and pushed and ultimately had more influence on his decision than any other factor. Indeed, it was the only real reason for his decision: security. Not the security of the umbilical cord, but security from himself. Although Harry did not want to accept it consciously, that little germ knew that temptation had a way of swooping down on you when you were the least prepared for it, when you were unable to cope with it or reject it, and who knows what horrendous situation he might get himself into ...
little germ knew that no matter what the circumstances, or temptations, he would not take a woman home to his folks house, in the middle of the night, and explain to them how he was protecting her from a husband who did not understand her and who refused, along with the children, to give her the love she so desperately needed.
No, that was something Harry would not do. It would be far too embarrassing.
So, all things considered, a couple of hours a day to and from work is not so bad. It has its advantages. Some very definite advantages.
Saturday was a softball game. Some of the guys who hung out in Caseys, a bar on Third Avenue, were going to play the guys from Swensons, a bar on Fifth Avenue. Harry was not a drinker, but the guys in the neighborhood, the guys he grew up with, hung out there and so Harry spent some time in Caseys and played ball with them when he was around on Saturday.
Todays game was something a little special as it was going to prove the superiority of one bar over the other; one neighborhood over the other; the Irish over the squareheads. In addition to the display of chauvinism, there were a few hundred dollars being bet on the game.
The game was scheduled to start at 11:00 A.M., in the playground on Sixty-fifth street, and both teams were there by ten-thirty, complete with equipment, friends and cases of beer.
It was a beautiful day, and more and more people drifted into the playground to watch the game. Kids on bikes and roller skates screamed at each other to come on and watch some big guys play softball; and people walking by would stop and watch through the wire fence surrounding the playground.
The teams finished warming up and were ready to play, but the game had to be delayed a few minutes to allow the two guys holding the money to get things straight. When they finally had everything in order, the game was ready to start.
Although Harry no longer played regularly, he was still one of the better ballplayers in the neighborhood. For one thing he did not drink as much as the other guys, on both teams, and so was better coordinated during the latter part of the game, when it really counted. He was as good as anyone in right field, and was an exceptional hitter, especially in the clutch. And Harry figured to be pretty good today as he felt exceptionally relaxed and was in a good mood, a ball playing mood.
Caseys won the toss of the coin and elected to bat last, so they left their beers in the safekeeping of friends and trotted onto the field with a hoot and a holler—Lets go, lets go. Come on, lets toss it around, toss it around ...
and their pitcher, Steve, warmed up and a few balls were tossed around the infield and the outfield. An off-duty bartender waddled out behind the pitcher while the two other umpires strolled to first and third base and the game began.
Caseys got into trouble in the first inning as Steve had a hard time finding the plate, and it looked like it was going to be a major disaster. He walked the first three men he faced, throwing ten balls before throwing a strike. The only ray of hope in Steves performance was the fact that he went to 3 and 2 on the third batter before walking him. The rest of the Caseys were yelling encouragement and telling him to slow down and take it easy. Where whitchya Stevie baby, we/re whitchya. Just chuck it in there Stevie baby boy. He cant see Steve. Letim hitit, his a crip ...
and Steve looked down at his catcher as Boiler Head, a huge, redheaded Norwegian came up to the plate swinging a fistful of bats.
The Swenson team was yelling and screaming as beer dribbled down their chins. They sensed the kill and were jubilant as they anticipated winning the game in the first inning. Shove it down his throat Boiler. Comeon Boiler baby, over the fence, over the fence. Lets go, lets go! We all score. We all score. Boiler Head let his brown teeth hang out as he grinned at Steve, swinging the toothpicklike bat, defying him to let him hit the ball. Steve took a slow windup and let a high floater come down and Boiler Head waited and leaned into the ball with a Neanderthal swing, and as the bat splat into the ball it sounded as if it would split it into a hundred pieces, and the ball shot quickly and rapidly up into the air and out toward the left-field fence. Everyone watched, beer bottles stopping suddenly as they approached a mouth, as the ball slowly curved foul and went out of the playground, a dozen kids running after it. Boiler Head snapped his bat as the ball turned foul, then grinned at the pitcher and stepped back in the batters box, his face suddenly becoming gruesomely defiant. Just straighten it out Boiler baby. Chuck it in there Steve, hes nothin. O, pitcher, O pitcher, we gotya now. Throw it past the big baboon....
Steve and Boiler Head stared at each other for a few moments and then Steve spit and went into his slow windup again, then snapped the ball toward the plate with almost invisible speed. Boiler Head swung and hit the ball squarely and solidly, but just a fraction of a second too late to hit it over the left-field fence. The ball went sailing down the right-field line toward the fence and the spectators ooood and aaahhhhd, and the Swensons jumped and screamed and hollered and the runners took off like thieves and Harry, who had been playing in right center for the pull hitter, ran with the thud of the bat toward the right field fence. The Swenson coaches were waving their arms and screaming at their teammates to run, run ya son of a bitch, and the man from third had already crossed the plate and the man from second was halfway home when Harry leaped in the air, his glove hand high over his head, and crashed into the fence just a fraction of a second before the ball, the ball thumping into his glove. Harry bounced off the fence holding the ball with both hands and cradling it in his gut as he rolled over on the concrete, unwound and stood and threw the ball to the first baseman, who easily doubled the man off first but was unable to throw to any of the other bases as there was a sudden confusion of players all running back to their former bases and the man trying to get back to first knocked Boiler Head into the first baseman and so there was no chance for any other play. Harry stood watching the action, his mind quickly decoding what he had seen and heard as he crashed into the fence as a woman, a woman on the other side of the fence ... yeah, and she had blonde hair and was wearing a pair of shorts and a halter, and, it seemed to Harry from what he could remember from the brief flash out of the farthest corner of his eye, that she had a nice pair of boobs, too. Harry turned and she was still there. He looked a little closer and he noticed a stroller with a young child in it. Harry walked back to the fence and stood half facing the playing field. The confusion had ended and the next batter was standing in the batters box as Harry smiled at the woman. Hi.
Hi, smiling and shaking her head slightly, I thought you were going to come right through the fence.
Harry raised his eyebrows and his smile broadened. If I had known you were there, I would have.
The game had started again, but everyone was still so excited over the last play that no one, on either side, noticed that Harry was still over on the right-field line with a right-handed pull hitter up.
Sally, she nodded toward the little girl in the stroller, seemed to think it was some sort of joke. She just giggled. I guess it doesnt take much to amuse her.
They both laughed and the count was 0 and 2 on the batter when Steve steamed one right down the middle and the batter swung an hour too late and the Caseys started hootin and hollerin and spritzin a little beer on each other.
As the teams started to change places, with the Caseys yelling and pounding Steve on the back, the woman nodded toward the field and asked what was happening. Harry turned and smiled. I guess they got the third out. Its our turn to bat. She started to turn as if to leave and Harry told her to stay. Its just the first inning. You have a lot of good softball left in the day.
Im afraid I don't know very much about the game, smiling softly.
Harry leaned against the fence and stared at her for a moment, then told her he could teach her everything she needed to know. You just wait here and I/ll be back in a few minutes. We never hit this guy early in the game. She smiled and Harry went trotting off toward the sidelines as his teammates and friends patted him on the back and cheered.
Harry batted fifth in the lineup and as he waited along the sidelines he kept glancing, from the corner of his eye, at the woman behind the fence. She wasnt bad. Not bad at all. Nice pair of boobs and a nice round ass. And not a kid either. Probably a few years older than Harry, maybe around thirty. He wished they would hurry up and get their three outs so he could go back and see what was happening. Harry remained oblivious to the action of the game until he heard a loud roar and some cursing around him and he realized that the third man had struck out and it was time for them to go back in the field. He joyfully trotted out along the right-field line.
Hi there, leaning against the fence and smiling at her.
You werent gone very long, standing close to the fence, smiling.
Yeah, well ... actually, shrugging, his mouth opening in a broad smile, it was all planned so that I could get out here faster.
Why would you want to do that?
Excerpted from The Demon by Hubert Selby Jr.. Copyright © 2003 Hubert Selby, Jr.. Excerpted by permission of OPEN ROAD INTEGRATED MEDIA.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
i picked this up in the dusty, neglected backroom of the public library and finished it the next day. i was entangled in the plot and entranced by harry, the main character. this book is a must read! one of my all time favorites.
I dont think ive ever read a book in which the last 100 pages got my heart rate so high i was panting. Selby, the author, Creates a man that lives inside all of us, who wants to sin like us, but insead of fantsizing he feeds his "Demon", spawning the most powerdul story ive ever read.
Love this book its a have to read book
The author couldnt even read this book after a few decades or so because this book sounds LAME and it shouldnt even be called a horror but instead a childrens humor