From the Publisher
"This . . . artfully structured, supremely insane novel is Buddha's story, turned inside out. Horse Badorties walks into American literature a full-blown achievement, a heroic godheaded head, a splendid creep, a sublime prince of the holy trash pile. Send congratulations to William Kotzwinkle, also a hero, man." William Kennedy, New Republic
"Hilarious. The Aquarian age found its correct chronicler in this book." San Francisco Review of Books
"Kotzwinkle has invented a human dada, full of one-line gags and comic perceptions." New York Times Book Review
"The Fan Man cuts through so many games that it leaves a trail of clear light." Ram Dass
Seattle Times - Staff Reviewer
A delightfully, often devastatingly funny novel… William Kotzwinkle is a first-rate fabulist and has created in Horse Badorties a new kind of American character who, while dwelling in the realms of the fantastic, touches upon far more aspects of contemporary life then do many so-called American characters… (Horse is a) kind of Ginger Man, Lucky Jim, Huck Finn, and Easy Rider all mixed up in one… a marvelous creation.
New Republic - William Kennedy
This short, artfully structured, supremely insane novel is Buddha's story, turned inside out… Horse Badorties walks into American literature a full-blown achievement, a heroic godheaded head, a splendid creep, a sublime prince of the holy trash pile … send congratulations to William Kotzwinkle, also a hero, man.
Read an Excerpt
Introduction by T.C. Boyle
I am holding in my hand an artifact of a time long gone, a time when we all had hair, and plenty of it, when we were members of an ever-expanding tribe and weren’t afraid to wear dashikis, top hats and rayon shirts with huge bleeding eyeballs dripping down into the waistband of our ventilated three-foot wide striped bell-bottom trousers. We had tribal rituals to sustain us, outdoor concerts, days that blended mystically one into the other, love that might have been free in the moment but wound up being very, very expensive in the long run. We had drugs and music and the astonishing literary improvisations of Robert Coover, Donald Barthelme, Jorge Luis Borges, Kurt Vonnegut, Richard Brautigan and William Kotzwinkle, the author of this very artifact, my original 1974 copy of the Avon Equinox paperback of The Fan Man, cover price $2.45. Why should this matter? Because The Fan Man is that rare literary marvel, a book that makes you laugh till you have to put it down and catch your breath, as funny in its own unique hyperbolic onrushing way as A Confederacy of Dunces and Lucky Jim, both of which, like this one, feature hapless, hopelessly degenerate protagonistsheroes!who blunder their way across a landscape of stultified convention.
The original model here, of course, is Don Quixote, though Kotzwinkle’s protagonist, Horse Badorties, needs no Sancho Panza to counterbalance his delusionsKotzwinkle allows the reader to fulfill that role. We are with our hero fully, though he’s not so much seeing giants in windmills but simultaneously embracing and scamming the junk-strewn society he finds himself immersed in, whether he’s rejecting the panoply of poisonous foods available to him in the eateries of the Lower East Side in favor of the healthful ground-up anus and eyeball largesse of the street vendor’s hot dog or buying a brake-challenged school bus with one of his rubber checks and filling it with some truly serious junk, like an air-raid siren and mine sweeper. Even better, he acquires an enormous hot-dog-emblazoned umbrella from a complicit street vendor and becomes the Knight of the Hot Dog, replete with his banner and colors. And where’s the windmill? No windmill, but a fan, the enormous basement fan in the Museum of Natural History he yearns to acquire for his Love Concert.
Horse Badorties is, fortunately, not what we would today call politically correct. A “blonde chick” is merrily raped with no more consequence or inner turmoil than having to endure a VD shot, and Puerto Ricanstheir culture, their music, the slippery slope of their open-vowel accentscome in for satirical drubbing throughout. But then The Fan Man was composed in a time before the Nunnery of the Verboten and the Monastery of the P.C. came along to shame us and dictate what we can legitimately think and say, and where’s the holy bleeding satire in that? Satire is designed to provoke and offend and The Fan Man succeeds swimmingly here, but it also succeeds in making risible fun of its protagonist while at the same time putting us squarely on his side, Sancho Panzas all. If Horse Badorties is a caricature of the quintessential hippie stoner dropout, he also has a purpose and a redemptive visionthe Love Chorus Concert, humming with fans and aglow with the conjoined voices of all his otherworldly fifteen-year-old chicks. That he doesn’t triumph (unlike Lucky Jim) is, of course, in characterin his reminiscent haze in Van Cortlandt Park he mistakes the dayand makes the ending all the more ironic and poignant too, the holy fool wholly fooled. But then, the concert did go on and the TV crew showed up, the saxophone player stood in admirably at the podium, and the music, which was the whole point, soared into the night.
How does all this work, ultimately? What makes this a comic classic? Voice. The hilarious internal monologue that drives the protagonist through his days, a voice not unlike the one that rings deep and individually through all our brains, the private voice here made public: “Horse Badorties waking up again, man. Man, what planet am I on? I seem to be contained in some weird primeval hideous grease. Wait a second, man, that is my Horse Badorties pillow-case. I am alive and well in my own Horse Badorties abominable life.”
How can you resist that? Get awake. Be awake. And prepare yourself for a major laughing jag, man.