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Travesty

3.86 of 5 stars 3.86  ·  rating details  ·  217 ratings  ·  29 reviews
Hawkes, Travesty. John Hawkes' most extreme vision of eroticism and comic terror.
Paperback, 132 pages
Published December 12th 1976 by New Directions Publishing Corporation
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 374)
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Paul Bryant
Nauseating. Also, insufferable. Also, bad. A pompous egomaniac finds out that his best friend has been shagging his 24 year old daughter. And same friend had a previous affair with this unnamed guy's wife. This recent discovery has incensed the unnamed husband and father to the point that he picks up friend Henri and daughter Chantal – they're all French - in his new car one evening then proceeds to drive through the countryside at increasingly alarming speeds and informs them in the transcenden ...more
Nate D
Jul 21, 2014 Nate D rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: megalomaniacal road trips
Recommended to Nate D by: the car as hermetically sealed environment of destruction
A breakneck ride in the sinister hands of a familiar-yet-unique Hawkes narrator. Why we're in this car, and where it's going, are all a part of the array of narrative hooks that slide in from the first and carry this straight through in one breathless heaving of life, sex, and vitriol, even acknowledging Hawkes' love of circling the absent and inconclusive crux of his characters and plots, so that I really should say no more and let the hooks do their work. In any event, the voice in this incred ...more
Leslie
Well, I’ve done it again. This is yet another tome about a grizzled voluptuary who meditates at length about his depraved life. This time it is a wealthy voluptuary, and I found his meditations on luxury (o the upholstery! o my mistress! o the chateau!) to be a tad tiresome. This said, John Hawkes is a dazzling stylist and highly pleasurable to read. I filled my notebook with phrases and new words to pilfer for my own use later on.

Here we are trapped in a car with the narrator, careening toward
...more
Jimmy
A self declared "homage to Camus", this short novel by Hawkes is part of a triad of novels beginning with the Blood Oranges. The premise is simple enough, a man (who for clarity's sake, let's call him Papa because he isn't really given a name in the story) picks his younger daughter and her lover (Papa's closest friend, also a famous poet) up from dinner. As they begin their long drive through the French countryside, Papa informs them that his intention is to crash the car at a considerably high ...more
Larou
This is a… strange little book. And I mean that in the best possible way.[return][return]The set-up seems simple enough – we’re inside a car for the whole duration of this short novel, together with its driver, his daughter Chantal and his friend, the poet Henri – who incidentally is the lover of not only the car driver’s daughter but also of his wife. Said driver is also the narrator of Travesty and he is one of the most deeply unlikeable characters to ever fill that function. And that is not j ...more
R.
Aug 06, 2008 R. rated it 4 of 5 stars
Shelves: 2008
Basic idea is that a guy goes mad - delivers a rambling monologue that's supposed to be an erotic revery of his wife - and drives through the night with hostages -his daughter, her lover - towards a crash, the explosion of which will awaken his wife from her sleep.

Robert Coover wrote a preface to one of the editions, so you know that at least you are in the hands of an expert driver.

Update:

Not bad, but not mindblowing. Robert Coover owed somebody a favor, I suppose.

Zach
Jan 04, 2011 Zach rated it 2 of 5 stars
Shelves: 2010
at a little under 130 pp, still a very slow read for me. for a while i was wondering if hawkes's central idea was actually interesting. the narrator's flowery, exquisitely prepared monologue seemed odd within the confines of a speeding deathtrap, but I guess I've come to expect sparse prose in transgressive fiction (if you can call this transgressive), and i suppose it suits the (underdeveloped) precept of cataclysm-as-conceptual-art that the narrator upholds.

the book does, however, gain a lot
...more
Lisa
Creepy but compelling. Can't help but wonder what made John Hawkes imagine a book with this premise: a man is driving in a car with his best friend and his daughter and the monologue is the narrator/driver listing out the many indignities he has suffered by his friend who has taken both his wife and his 20-year old daughter as his lovers. He is so hateful of everyone he loves. Short and not sweet.
Littlebrit
I read this book because it was a "Book Club Choice". I would not have chosen it myself and sadly, I did not really enjoy it. For me, the only recommendations I could give was that this book is extremely well written and that it is set in a highly imaginative way such that it leaves the story open to almost limitless and very different interpretations. But, for me, the central character is totally unsympathetic and uninteresting, and the story itself, again in my opinion, could have been complet ...more
Ferris
What is the meaning of travesty? A travesty is literary or artistic composition so inferior in quality as to be merely a grotesque imitation of its model. John Hawkes' novella is a poetic travesty. The driver of a luxury sports car, an upper class intellectual, has decided to commit the ultimate poetic act. Is it because his wife is his poet best friend's mistress? Is it because his daughter is mistress to the same poet? You will have to join the threesome on this ride to death to determine the ...more
Cooper Cooper
This book is a variation on the récit genre—that is, an extended monologue by a single narrator; it differs from the récit in that the narrative does not address the reader directly, but rather other (invisible and silent) characters in the story—in the tradition of Camus’ The Fall, to which Travesty owes one of its epigraphs and which it greatly resembles—whether in admiring emulation or in outright parody (“travesty”) I’m not quite sure, because I know almost nothing about Hawkes or his inten ...more
Adam
This slim novel covers some of the same ground as J.G. Ballard's Crash, but focuses less on the medical, scientific, and technological aspects of auto accident deaths and more on the psychological depths of a man who plans to take his friend and daughter to their deaths in a car wreck. Although Hawkes was American, his prose often reads like a dry English translation of a French writer such as Camus or Sartre. (And Hawkes actually found much greater fame in France than he ever did in the United ...more
Jeff Weyer
I read this originally 25 years ago--it really stayed with me. It would be hard to recommend, but it is one ride, if postmodern is your thing.
Corvid

Three people in a car hurtling through rural France. Only the driver speaks. Read it to find out what he says.
Lindsay
A strange little novel, but an interesting, short read. You may find yourself asking "what's the point?" in the course of reading--and if so you're pretty much answering your own question in the process. The relationship between the random universe vs. the ordered, predestined universe (and which one you believe in) is really crucial to the novel, and probably the most fascinating thing to consider in the process of reading.
Slickdpdx
A short, twisted, monologue. I liked it, but I also admit I read it as a bit of literate farce. Hawkes must have intended the farce. The narrator is ridiculous, repellent, comically Gallic. If there is anything serious about it (aside from the finely-tuned writing) its that Hawkes is the poet in the front passenger seat and this is his greatest fear. As he gets older, he finds himself in the driver's seat...
James
Odd and enjoyable. This 90-page novella takes place in a speeding car. The driver is a Frenchman who's decided to kill himself, his daughter, and his son-in-law by driving the car into a brick wall at a very high speed. There's no narrative or dialog; the entire text of the story is the man's crazed melodramatic soliloquy as he speeds toward his destination.
Matt Adkins
Surprised by how much I liked this. Essentially a monologue, or a half a conversation... But there's some nicely turned phrases on nearly every page, & story holds your attention. Details would only spoil it, but there's a fair amount of suspense as well (although the not-clearly-delineated finish will leave some unsatisfied. )
Adam
Another of Hawkes’ unbearable narrators. The monologue of poet as he drives his car containing him and his daughter and her lover to his aesthetically approved suicide/murder. Similar territory to Ballard’s Crash and Camus’ The Stranger.
Tobias
Quite liked this -- probably my favorite of the three Hawkes books I've read. Looking forward to checking out the Dalkey Archive reprint of "The Passion Artist" in the not-so-distant future.
Mark Snyder
This may be one of my favorite reads of all times. It can be re-analyzed so many times from so many different directions, that it keeps it fresh and alive and my mind keeps chewing it over.
Chris
Another gem that I discovered in Morrow's class. This slim, riviting novel takes place in the space of a car-ride as the travellers hurtle towards their deaths.
Mac
If you've ever wondered what it was like to ride around in a car with me, read this book.
Charlie Zoops
the whole story exists in a few seconds, passengers in a car, with meta-dialogues
Philip Bardach
One of the more eloquent and captivating lunatics I've come across in my reading history.
sam kim
such a fun read. really smart and sexy. loved it.
Nate House
One of the best literary thrillers ever!
Thathawa
Draggggedddd. Lovely concept, though!
Ashley
wonderful. read it.
Anne
Horrible!
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13765
John Hawkes, born John Clendennin Talbot Burne Hawkes, Jr., was a postmodern American novelist, known for the intensity of his work, which suspended the traditional constraints of the narrative.
Born in Stamford, Connecticut, and educated at Harvard University, Hawkes taught at Brown University for thirty years. Although he published his first novel, The Cannibal, in 1949, it was The Lime Twig (196
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More about John Hawkes...
The Lime Twig The Blood Oranges Second Skin The Cannibal The Beetle Leg

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