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Comments And Reviews
"A stimulating novel filled with astonishing three-dimensional characters."
In his classic novel, Steppenwolf, Herman Hesse emphasized that each of us tends to see the self as a unit, or at most as a duality like "good self, bad self." Hesseís hero, Harry Haller, viewed himself in this manner, as either bestial or refinedas either "wolf" or "man"although within the story a mysterious observer argued that Harry consisted of a hundred or a thousand selves, not simply two.
Philip Sullivan, author of The Wolf Tree, seems to share this viewor at least his protagonist Michael Manning doesbecause Michael tells us about his attempt to adjust to his new circumstances by way of the often conflicting responses of his many "inner committee-members" (as he calls them).
Michaelís story begins with his bursting into the emergency room of a rural Maine hospital, bleeding profusely from a head wound of rather unexplained origin. There he meets Lesley Jordan, an attractive nurse who will turn out to be his femme fatale, though she sees him as a rather flawed physician whose very early retirement makes her think he has reneged on his implied agreement to help his fellow man.
An unexpected series of adventures arise as Michael tries to settle into his new community, leading to interactions with Lesley that are touching yet comical. Their story addresses a question that arises inevitably during the course of a human life: does this relationship have a future?
But the author, a psychiatrist by trade, seems to have more in mind than simply the unfolding of interesting events. He wants to let us know about the complexly conflicting goings-on within Michael. Nor does Doctor Sullivan do so by way of a duality, as in the good self and the bad self whereof Saint Paul so famously spoke.
Instead, itís as if there were a considerable number of "committee members" within Michael, contending with each other and forming alliances to take control of his body and authorize its activities. The degree of unity that results seems to be the outcome of shifting alliances among various committee members.
Hesse might well have concluded that Michael, like Harry before him, consists of a hundred or a thousand selves; although in Michaelís story, this fact is portrayed in a rather different manner. The effect is striking, however; sufficiently so that we would invite readers to come join Michael Manning and observe this medley in action as he initiates a new era of his lifeincluding a new affair of the heart.
"The Wolf Tree reaches out and touches all of your emotions."
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