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Thing of the week:
Hubert Selby Jr
By Ian Grant
I don't have many heroes. I don't idolise footballers - the ones that play for Watford have a tendency to follow a moment of brilliance with a season of constipation; the ones that play in the Premiership get paid too much (delivering magic for forty grand a week isn't heroic). Otherwise, most of my idols have let me down, have gone out of their way to prove their fallibility.

But not all of them. I was wasting time in a Brighton record shop on Saturday morning, desperately trying to avoid spending any money, when my eyes wandered and locked in on the spoken word CDs. I was looking at the words 'Hubert Selby Jr'. My mate Gareth and I used to describe the moment in terms of a certain tightening of the throat muscles as the realisation hits home that you're staring at a piece of plastic that's so important you'll pay anything. I didn't watch the England match that evening.

So, an hour-long series of readings by the greatest living (or dead, if I'm really honest about this) writer. If some of it is mildly disappointing - 'A Little Respect', a tirade against the domination of television, plays to the crowd a little too much - then the best moments are just devastating. Like all his best work, 'Tomorrow', a lengthy piece about childhood, leaves me wrecked and choked - no writer has ever managed such a potent mix of idealism and realism. Selby deals with things that I'll spend the rest of my life coming to terms with.

If you have no interest in the human soul, and the heavy sadness that seems to lurk away at the bottom of it, then I wish you a very happy, shallow life. If you want to know, you must read Selby. Read Requiem For A Dream, his shattering portrayal of disappointment in Western society. Or read The Room, a book so intense I suspect that I'll never be able to face it a second time. Or read Song Of The Silent Snow, his collection of short stories that ends with one of the most beautiful sections of prose I have ever read.

He is an impossibly brave writer. His prose burns and sighs and weeps and screams. His voice, appropriately, sounds like an apple that someone's taken a bite out of - it yearns for completeness, it yearns for answers.

Sometimes I'm frustated by my inability to find enough time for everything I want to read and everything I want to hear. That applies a hundred times over when it comes to Selby. Here is an author who deserves every spare second of your life - every day-dreamed thought, every moment of reflection, every hour of need. He's out there, if you want him...