Leslie's Reviews > Travesty

Travesty by John Hawkes
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Feb 25, 10

bookshelves: providence-public-library, read-in-2010
Read from January 23 to February 25, 2010

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 a premeditated death scene like a “locomotive in a maze.” We are captive as his two captives (his daughter/her lover) in his “powerful and highly polished car.” Premeditation is crucial to this scene. He confesses and ruminates aloud in a direct address to his hostages for the entirety of the novella. The narrator is driving; the car is careening; we are forced into detours of the mind and the road. The narrator’s wife is asleep in a nearby chateau, no doubt in silk pajamas. She is never to know if this crash was on purpose.

I found myself surprised at Hawkes’ ability to write a story confined to a small and private space—the cab of a car—without inducing claustrophobia in me.

This passage seems important: “I do not believe in secrets—withheld or shared. Nor do I believe in guilt. At least let us agree that secrets and so called guilty deeds are fictions created to enhance the sense of privacy, to feed enjoyment into our isolation, to enlarge the rhythm of what most people need, which is a belief in life. [...:] No man is guilty of anything, whatever he does.”

A decent book. I will surely read more of him in the future.
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Comments (showing 1-4 of 4) (4 new)

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message 1: by Allison (new)

Allison Floyd I wish you'd write more essays!


Leslie Aw, thank you! I'm actually working on one this semester.


message 3: by Allison (new)

Allison Floyd I hope I get to read it!


message 4: by Meg (new)

Meg Powers I'd like to read this back to back with Crash.


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