The Willow Tree: A Novel

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Marion Boyars, 1998 - Fiction - 288 pages
23 Reviews
Hubert Selby is probably one of the six best novelists writing in the English language.?Financial Times

Bobby is young and black. He shares a cramped apartment in the south Bronx with his mother, his younger siblings and the ceaselessly scratching rats that infest the walls behind his bed. Barely a teenager, he is old beyond his years. The best thing in Bobby's life is Maria, his Hispanic girlfriend. They are in love, and they have big plans for the summer ahead.

Their lives are irrevocably shattered when a vicious Hispanic street gang attack the couple as they walk to school. With Bobby savagely beaten and Maria lying in hospital, terrified and engulfed by the pain of her badly burned face, The Willow Tree takes the reader on on a volcanically powerful trip through the lives of America's dispossessed inner-city dwellers.

Into this bleak and smouldering hinterland, however, Selby introduces a small but vital note of love and compassion. When Bobby's bruised and bloodied body is discovered by Moishe, an aged concentration camp survivor, an unlikely friendship begins. As Moishe slowly, painfully, reveals his own tragic story, Bobby struggles angrily with his desperate need for revenge.

"Selby's place is in the front rank of American novelists ... to understand his work is to understand the anguish of America."?The New York Times Book Review

Also by Hubert Selby Jr available from Marion Boyars: Last Exit to Brooklyn, The Room, The Demon, Requiem for a Dream and Song of the Silent Snow.

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I want to like this book, I really do, because Selby was largely ignored until someone bothered to make a movie out of Requiem for a Dream. Unfortunately, there isn't a great deal to like about this book, the story and pacing are painfully slow and when added to Selby's style of run-on sentences without punctuation make for a difficult read. There are better Selby books out there, the aforementioned "Requiem", "Last Exit to Brooklyn" and "The Demon". 

Review: The Willow Tree

User Review  - Eric Cartier - Goodreads

Searing writing about hatred, anger, memory, healing, and love. This is the last book by one of the great 20th century US writers. Read full review

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About the author (1998)

Selby was born in Brooklyn, New York. After a career in the merchant marine cut short by illness, he achieved international recognition for his books.

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