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Ash Wednesday

3.25 of 5 stars 3.25  ·  rating details  ·  1,709 ratings  ·  159 reviews
From the actor and writer Ethan Hawke: a piercing novel of love, marriage, and renewal.

Jimmy is AWOL from the army, but-with characteristic fierceness and terror-he's about to embark on the biggest commitment of his life. Christy is pregnant with Jimmy's child, and she's determined to head home, with or without Jimmy, to face up to her past and prepare for the future. Some...more
Unknown Binding, 221 pages
Published January 1st 2003 by Bloomsbury Publishing (first published 2002)
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K.D. Absolutely
Tell me, how many Hollywood actors can write novels? Especially ones who are still active in movies? Especially if there is no co-writer beside his/her name?

Ethan Hawke (born 1970) has written two decent novels: The Hottest State (1996) and this book, Ash Wednesday (2002). When these books came out, I was not yet into heavy reading so these did not interest me. But a couple of years back, a member in our Filipinos group here in Goodreads favorably commented on these books so when I saw them in m...more
Hannah Eiseman-Renyard
Aug 31, 2009 Hannah Eiseman-Renyard rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: College dreamers, coffee shop posers, the feckless
’Will-They-Won’t-They?’ On the Road

Those au fait with Ethan Hawke’s ‘philosopher groovy syndrome’ breed of intelligent, dreamy slackers in movie roles such as Reality Bites, Before Sunrise and Before Sunset, will find more than a hint of them repeated in this sophomoric tale. The only problem is that, though all those characters are likeable guys with interesting ideas, they might not be the tautest of storytellers.

Army fuckup Jimmy Heartsock finds himself going AWOL to propose to/win back his...more
Valerie K
It was ok, not bad, and that is what 2 stars is supposed to mean. It was a fairly absorbing read, but the characters were so prone to constant yet shifting self-analysis, always on the brink of disaster or in mid-crisis state, it was like a hyped up version of some fifties melodrama where everyone is having epiphonies every ten seconds, then something happens and they have a new epiphony. It was too much. Still... there was something interesting about the way the two characters thought about the...more
Again I received this book as a birthday present. It's on par with the first book. At it's heart it is a simple tale, but told in such a way that it keeps your interest. The only reason I gave it 3 stars instead of 4 is because there's a part where he descibes a character as wearing a blue and gold Michigan State sweatshirt. As someone who went to Michigan State I took offence - our colors are green & white - University of Michigan (our main rival) are blue & gold. This mistake is unforg...more
I wanted the book for a while without knowing much about it, other than Ethan Hawke was the author. My then-boyfriend bought it for me. I was unable to like or even mildly stand any of the characters. The part that most bothered me is early on in the book, when the protagonist's future girlfriend lifts up her skirt and shows him "her pussy" because he said "I'm not afraid of you." I couldn't help but feel this was unrealistic (not to mention irritatingly stupid).
A riveting read that's fresh and vital and funny. Jimmy Heartsock is a young soldier who breaks up with girlfriend Christy Walker only to propose marriage to her eight days later. The story alternates between the narratives of ambivalent and haunted Christy and the rambunctious but earnest Jimmy. The two drive across America via New Orleans and the craziness of Mardi Gras stopping for an express wedding and some pregnancy woes.

I have no idea whether the story is autobiographical or not (and I do...more
In the name of honesty I will tell you that I was skeptical going in... because he's Ethan Hawke, a guy who probably wanted to add "novelist" to his already long and gorgeous resume.

More honesty: Two chapters in I realized that I needed to carry a notebook because I had to pull over constantly to rewind the audio (do we still call it rewinding?) and write down my favorite passages. There were so so many.

"To love each other and live in the truth. To not lie at all. To maintain a perspective on t...more
Disclaimer: I read this book as a fan of the movie, Before Sunset. Ash Wednesday, in so many ways, comes off as a rough draft of Ethan Hawke's contribution to that movie. Maybe it's unfair to compare the two, but I did and I do.

Like the movie, it deals with two confused characters who can't seem to get their lives to sync up with their shaky ideas of what it means to grow up, love someone else, and live meaningful lives. I'm the kind of person who enjoys the pseudo-headache of a winding "what do...more
I thought I wouldn't like it, but I did. It was a quick and interesting read. The second half was better than the first.

Some of my favourite moments:

1. The basketball challenge between Jimmy and the 12-year-old, who cries when he loses his brother's money.

2. This exchange:

Steve sat down next to me. "Responsibility," he hissed. "Screw a woman over thirty-five and she'll give you the ride of her life - makes an eighteen-year-old look like a blow-up doll. I'm not talking about sex, I'm talking abo...more
Libro messo in wishlist praticamente solo perché scritto da Ethan Hawke, l'attore, senza sapere nulla della trama. E' la storia di Jimmy e Christy, delle loro esistenze problematiche e del loro tentativo di condividere la vita e formare una famiglia.
Guy that has to face to decision to grow up once his girl gets knocked up. It's been done, of course, but I still found it a good read. Think of Hornby's torn relationships and adult confusion/angst save the funnies and peculiar obsessions. Female POV included.

I might be the only person who preferred The Hottest State to this book. I didn't care too much about these deadbeat characters and their bad choices.
One of those 'got it for 15 cents at a library sale' books, and pretty good for a book I knew nothing about before I picked it up. It's basically just a survey of the two main characters inner thoughts and experiences - which can be a little self-indulgent at times, but mostly I liked the characters and cared about what happened to them, so it was nice to read. Also, I like this quote (and thus the character who works to get to this point by the end of the book): (view spoiler)...more
I got this for 50 cents at an Opportunity Shop. Boy meets girl, some trials and tribulations ensue, will there be a happy ending? Not terrible. Worth the 50 cents for sure. Better than a lot of stuff out there.
Michael Obiora
As an actor and writer myself, I was interested to see which other actors have written works of fiction in the past. This is the second offering I've read from Ethan Hawke (the first was The Hottest State).
The best thing about both books is the use of dialogue. If this book's author had used a pseudonym I still would have known that it was written by an actor, or at the very least somebody who has worked in the film industry. As actors we tend to have an ear for dialogue, and Hawke's experience...more
T.E. Shepherd
This is a fantastic, thoughtful, and insightful read about some not so likeable characters. That is not to say that it is impossible to like Jimmy, Chrissy, or their love story of a road trip as they cross America - just that you can see all to well how easy it would be for either of them to find reasons to dislike the other. In that I guess its all too much life. Which is why, although I wouldn't want to be Jimmy, its also a really good read.

This is Ethan Hawke's second novel. More commonly kno...more
Bear with me as I try and sort this one out. As a novelist, Hawke has taken a huge step forward. What was almost too-spare prose in his first novel, The Hottest State, has been amped up to the max in Ash Wednesday. It's almost like he's a completely different writer.

Themes of renewal and second chances are woven thoughout with success, and the dual narrative of Jimmy and Christy suggests skill -- unlike a lot of multiple POV narratives, each character had their own way of speaking, thinking, an...more
Ian Mapp
I own a signed copy of this book. I think that I got it when I subscribed to Esquire magazine many years ago, and it has sat on my shelf for a long time.

No reason for this, just that I get tied up in Library books.

You shouldnt necessarily think that because someone is famous in another discipline they cannot make good authors - just look at Nick Cave. This is a very assured book, that is well structured and is about real people in real situations.

It tells of the relationship between Jimmy Heart...more
At 29, Jimmy Heartsock doesn't think too much of himself. He longs to be someone he can admire. He had joined the Army on a whim after his father's suicide and hates it. But he didn't know what else to do at the time, looking for some order in his life. Christy, his 26-year-old girlfriend, is pregnant with his child. All she wants is to get to her hometown of Houston, a home she left behind 10 years ago. Together they embark on a rocky journey of self-discovery, an emotional road-trip from Alban...more
Susana Pereira
Só peguei neste livro (via bookcrossing) porque não sabia que o Ethan Hawke actor também era escritor e fiquei com curiosidade sobre se teria talento nesta outra arte.
Claro que, se fosse só um bocadinho mais cinéfila do que sou, já saberia que ele tinha sido co-autor do argumento do filme "Before Sunset", que também protagonizou, e que foi momeado para o Óscar de "Melhor argumento adaptado".
Além disso este já é o segundo livro que publica mas poderia ficar a dúvida sobre se o sucesso editorial s...more
An educational reading indeed, either spiritually or rationally speaking.
The novel talks about the life of a young man, Frederic, during the French Revolution and the founding of the French Empire in 1848. It is said that Frederic is in fact Flaubert himself telling about some real events in his life and of course about his platonic love for an older woman, in the book, called Mme Arnoux.
We are able to follow, with a somehow ironic and pessimistic tone, a different set of characters who live th...more
I was surprised by this, and mostly in a good way. Basically I was just curious what sort of book Hawke would write, and I'd expected it to be high-falutin', pretentious, patchy and irritating, but with a few (grudgingly acknowledged) bits of brilliance. Instead, once I got past the first couple of chapters and their introductions to the two main characters (these I did find pretty irritating for both characters' unrealistically observant and very writerly natures), I found this unexpectedly enj...more
"Not only could Alison not see, she was also extremely short. The two might have been connected- kidney problems, I think- but I was already tall and it added to how awkward I felt around her. I held her hand as we walked around the park, doing all the low-key slides in tandem. She was sweet but a pain in the ass; all she wanted to do was wade in the children’s pool and place her vagina directly over a small bubbling fountain, “This feels FANTASTIC,” she’d say loudly. “Oh, my goodness!” She’d ex...more
Eileen Pucci
I gave this novel 3 stars because it was an entertaining read and the author's style was very rich and engaging. I liked the book but I didn't respect it. It is basically a series of angst ridden, philosophical conversations between the main characters, Jimmy who is a wolf from the army and his pregnant girl friendChristy. My problem with the book is that there is just no way these two semi-losers would be so eloquent and introspective. NOBODY is that eloquent and introspective.
If you're looking for a light, fluffy, quick read, this book is certainly not for you. However, if you're looking for something thought-provoking and deep, pick this up.

One thing I kept thinking while reading this was that it reminded me of Markus Zusak. It focused more on the characters and their thoughts than what was actually happening. Sure, a lot of things happened in this book. But it wasn't necessarily the outcome that mattered, it was more what Jimmy and Christy took out of the experien...more
I'm honestly not sure I liked this. I don't hate it. But oh my goodness is it so very descriptive. I feel like I may be missing something or the characters are just slightly bi-polar and/or schizophrenic. The book also hops over the line between erotic and vulgar which didn't work and I think Hawke knew it the further he went along cause I mostly had that problem in the beginning.

The tone was interesting and frustrating and somewhat melancholy. Nicely written. I feel like it doesn't really go a...more
Jimmy Heartsock is going AWOL from the army and chasing after his lover Christy in order to propose marriage in a frozen car park. Christy is terrified, not so much that she’s going to have a baby, but that if she stays with Jimmy she may end up with two. As the lovers drive across America in an ancient Chevy Nova, they ask questions they’ve never dared ask before, and confront family history, difficult choices, personal failures and the occasional cop in a compelling, funny and gritty drama of...more
Sarah Fitting-mcpherson
Halfway through page one I realized that the writing was spot on, the voice distinct, the character disturbing and that was all I needed. I was now on this crazy journey with Jimmy and Christy, and their cat Grace. I forgot about Ethan, I forgot about teenage drooling, and I was submerged in the fantastic, sometimes less than pretty, life of these two main characters. I felt like a voyeur sitting in the backseat of Jimmy's Chevy Nova and the greatest part was Jimmy and Christy had no idea I was...more
"Ash Wednesday" by Ethan Hawke is an easy 220 pages to read. The acknowledgements thank Allen Ginsberg for inspiration but it feels more like William S. Burroughs' "Junkie." it's Chester Himes without the racial tension; Jim Thompson without the crime; J.D. Salinger without the nihilism. It may be dark, dysfunctional, and even crass at times but it barely hides the existential debate inside the minds of the two intelligent but maladjusted lovers. It's certainly not banal- each plot point is an e...more
Horia Bura
"Ash Wednesday" is a very nice surprise coming from the famous actor Ethan Hawke. It's quite astonishing that a big Hollywood name could write such a lovely novel about love, relationship difficulties and burdensome past. I think that Hawke would have been an important contemporary American writer if he hadn't chosen the acting career (and well did he choose, as he is one of my favorite actors!); otherwise, knowing who the writer is, this book could be seen as an experiment conducted in a superf...more
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Ethan Green Hawke is a three-time Academy Award-nominated American actor, writer and film director.

In 1988, Hawke was cast in a role in director Peter Weir's Dead Poets Society; the film's success was considered Hawke's breakthrough. He left school and appeared in A Midnight Clear, Alive, Reality Bites, Before Sunrise, Gattaca, The Newton Boys, Great Expectations, and many other movies. In 2001, h...more
More about Ethan Hawke...
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“Give your heart to everybody you meet. The rest is pretense.” 25 likes
“Success isn't measured by what you achieve, it's measured by the obstacles you overcome.” 12 likes
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