I know that several times on my blog I’ve mentioned Hubert Selby Jr. both as one of my favorite authors as well as one of the authors that I really wish people would read more often. Today I finished re-reading one of Selby’s books that I truly enjoy. The Willow Tree is probably one of the three or four best books that I’ve ever read and I think that Selby is easily one of the most under-appreciated authors of recent years.
I’m not posting a review of the book in this post, rather I’m using this post to say that I’m going to do something a little different with this book, I’m going to do a more in depth analysis of the book, both in hopes that my writing about it will interest more people in reading it, as well as the fact that I simply want to look into the book a lot more.
Selby was a fantastic writer, one who was willing to take a look at the darker side of humanity. In some ways this makes his books extremely dark and often disturbing. I find many of his books refreshing simply because they are so different from other novels. Selby was not afraid to show people failing, to show their lives falling apart. In many ways that is what makes this novel so different from his others, and at the same time better. Selby crafts a story where the protagonist has every reason to extract his revenge, to be another example of a person whose life went from having potential to being just another person in prison for life. But the protagonist is following the path towards darkness, Selby introduces a guiding influence who has had even more reason to hate everyone, but who has instead learned to love. This leads to the story becoming one of redemption rather than damnation. And Selby shows that he is equally capable of writing both types of stories.
I’m going to be digging into this story more over the next week or so, and if nothing else I hope that I have at the very least gotten you interested in the book with this post.
In the end I suppose this is sort of a review, and I’ll tell you now that I give the book a perfect 10/10 rating. This is one of my favorite books by one of the most under-appreciated authors that I know of. I hope that you consider reading this book, as it is a fantastic look at so many things that our society needs to be looking at.