READ The Willow Tree by Hubert Selby Jr. bookshop macbook book german without registeringREAD The Willow Tree by Hubert Selby Jr. bookshop macbook book german without registering
To say HSJ mellowed in his old age is like saying Saddam Hussein became a tad less fond of fascism in his pre-hanging weeks. To mention Hussein in the same breath as Selby is heretical—one was a passionate moralist and Christian so devoted to his craft he fell into depressions and addictions and took up to a decade between works, the other is Hubert Selby Jr. (See what MJ did there? Priceless moments). The Willow Tree is a beautiful novel that uses an unapologetic sentimental tone, far closer to the Victorian double-Ds (Dickens and Dostoevsky) than anything written in 1998. Readers of earlier Selby novels will be pleased to note that the suffering and torment in this one starts on page one and ceases to relent until the final page, with the characters’ hysterical responses (fair responses, under the circumstances) cranked to what seems like the highest notch. Unlike in certain Dostoevsky novels, the weeping and lamenting isn’t unintentionally comic, but helps to create the epic push-and-pull of Love and Hate at the centre of the novel. This is a book about murderous burning hatred. About learning to forgive and love those who murder our families. A relationship forms between a Holocaust survivor living in a strange subterranean bachelor pad and a thirteen-year-old Bronx kid out to kill the gang who threw acid in his girlfriend’s face and drove her to suicide. That sort of thing. The tenderness that forms between the two in the midst of this seething pulsing hatred is at times devastating and makes the novel a success. Except Selby exaggerates their friendship (spontaneous laughter almost the moment the two meet), and uses clumsy German speech tics like ‘ya’ throughout, spoiling the integrity of this character somewhat. Also, at this point in his career the run-on sentence seems like a default stylistic tic, and loses the urgency it had in earlier novels. But who cares? This man is the Duke of Devastation.
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