Mags's Reviews > The Hottest State

The Hottest State by Ethan Hawke
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Nov 01, 10

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A lot of people wouldn’t pick up this book after reading who the author is, and with great confidence, they would say that actors should just leave literature to writers. But this is no Paris-Hilton-esque novel of egotism. American actor Ethan Hawke is best known for his lead roles in “Reality Bites,” “Before Sunrise,” its sequel “Before Sunset,” and “Hamlet,” but he decided to make room for one more skill in his biography, and that is writing.

In his debut novel, he sketches the story of William Harding, a young man who had just moved to New York trying to make it as an actor. He then meets Sarah, a songwriter and a singer, in a bar called The Bitter End, and soon the two began a relationship. It might be any other kind of love story, with Hawke portraying scenes from a reality-checked relationship: the obsessive, unhealthy kind of love; the anguish of loss; and the ins and outs of a relationship.

He pens with wit and a poetic, cliche-free style the complicated ways and behaviors of women and how they twist an average man’s mind. He effortlessly but dramatically drags the story of William and Sarah from New York to Paris where they unofficially got married, for after which, William would have to leave for a month’s acting. But when he returns to NYC, Sarah wasn’t the same, confused, and was ready to leave him.

The last chapters evoke how William struggles to deny and then accept this bitter truth, emerge from the downfall, and know his best self in the worst times. While Hawke has written a second novel entitled Ash Wednesday, I think that nothing of his work in the future would ever compare to how personal The Hottest State has made readers feel, with its vividly real characters and heartbreaking yet moving twists.
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