Sean Maher's Quality Control

Monday, May 22, 2006

HUBERT SELBY JR: It/ll Be Better Tomorrow

What demons haunted your life? What angels sang in your heart?

Did you know the difference?

I haven't written a lot about Hubert Selby, Jr., because it's a mighty daunting task - the guy is, hands down, my favorite writer. I a huge fan of Harry Crews, Steven Jesse Bernstein, Bukowski, but nobody's got their hooks in me quite like Selby.

For the most part, I think the attraction is compassion. Selby's writing is filled with unattractive characters, ranging from in scale from overbearing Jewish mothers to megalomaniacal, psychotic murderers - people that you have no reason to care for. And yet, somehow, they're written with such an effort to understand, and their suffering is written with such rawness and unbelievably graphic, visceral pain, you just can't shut them out. Selby said once that the "real problem is separation." He connects you. Where you go with it is up to you - he's not especially preachy - but he helps make the connection, and reading his work makes me feel more alive and aware and excited and sorrowful and powerfully here now in the world around me than any writer. The colors are more vibrant. I'm happy, thrilled to be alive, and to be so lucky.

I'll be writing more about this down the line, but I bring it up today for a reason. After discovering last week that I'd somehow missed a new Harry Crews book, over the weekend I did some Googling to see if any of Selby's manuscripts may have been published since his death in 2004. They haven't. But--

--they've made a movie. HUBERT SELBY JR: It/ll Be Better Tomorrow is an eighty-minute documentary about Selby's life and writing, featuring footage of the man himself and interviews with Jerry Stahl, Henry Rollins, Amiri Baraka, Nick Tosches, Lou Reed, and a whole bunch more of his friends. Archive footage of Anthony Kiedis and John Turturro. Narration by Robert Downey, Jr. A website with the trailer and dozens of photos.

And it's premiering in L.A. next month.

I can't even describe how excited I am about this. I'm on top of the fuckin' world, seriously.

The days just get better and better.


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