This month the Big Other Book Club is reading Travesty by John Hawkes. Everyone is welcome to write a post about Travesty or Hawkes. It is 132 pages and out of the handful of books of his I’ve read, the most accessible.
John Hawkes’ short novel Travesty presents a monologue of a person driving an automobile who plans to deliberately crash the car into a farmhouse because his wife and daughter are lovers of his friend Henri. Henri and his daughter are with him. The collision is expected to occur within 100 minutes. – Conte (below)
A few resources:
Design and Debris: John Hawkes’s Travesty, Chaos Theory, and the Swerve by Joseph M. Conte
All That Remains: On the Fiction of John Hawkes by Daniel Green – it looks at Travesty, as well as The Lime Twig and Second Skin
Start Suffering – my appreciation of Hawkes, focused on The Lime Twig, with links to other sources
How can I contain myself? (But perhaps the question is: how could Gass both contain and not contain himself to have done what he did?) Having had The Tunnel to go back to every morning was like having the one you love next to you, to be transfixed and freshened, to be, as that worthy words man said, surprised by joy and impatient as the wind. (First post on approaching The Tunnel)
In the end (and there can’t be an end to such a work that reverberates on itself and the whole of literature, philosophy, and history), Gass’s explication of Kohler’s consciousness is all tongue, all logos, but a logos of the highest order. Is there pity and terror? Is there sentimentality? Many monsters have their sweet side and though some have called Kohler a monster, I would just call him a guy who tells the truth of his story, no matter the lies of old age one tells to lessen the pains of the past. At the center of his thoughts is the idea of the fascism of the heart, with Kohler himself as the case study. He gives us his life in many slices of pie (sugar and sweets, such as ice cream and cake abound in the book). He also heaps us with shit, with the staged, and with something surfacely sentimental, but wholly human:
“You suffer The Lime Twig like a dream. It seems to be something that is happening to you, that you want to escape from but can’t.”
– Flannery O’Connor
The stakes get raised again. After reading John Hawkes’s The Lime Twig I’m of a mind with Louise Glück lines from “Mock Orange”:
How can I rest?
How can I be content
when there is still
that odor in the world?
And ‘odor’ is a very apt word. I’ve never read a book where there were so many scents, so much olfactory maneuvering. Here the narrator speaks of the femme fatales sent to distract the married Michael Banks:
The smell of women–girlish, matronly–and the smell of meat sauce were the same. As soon as it spread across his plate it went to his nostrils and they might not have bothered with their clothes, with procrastination. (150)