The Hottest State: A Novelby Ethan Hawke
When William meets Sarah at a bar appropriately called the Bitter End, he is a few months short of his twenty-first birthday and about to act in his first movie. He is so used to getting what he wants that he has never been able to care too deeply for anyone. But all of that is about to change. And it is Sarah--bold and shy, seductive and skittish--who will become… See more details below
When William meets Sarah at a bar appropriately called the Bitter End, he is a few months short of his twenty-first birthday and about to act in his first movie. He is so used to getting what he wants that he has never been able to care too deeply for anyone. But all of that is about to change. And it is Sarah--bold and shy, seductive and skittish--who will become William's undoing and his salvation.
William's affair with Sarah will take him from a tenement on the Lower East Side to a hotel room in Paris, from a flip proposal of marriage to the extremities of outraged need and the wisdom that comes only to true survivors. Anyone who reads The Hottest State will encounter a writer who can charm, dazzle, and break the heart in a single paragraph.
Hawke's mercifully brief story is really an extended hissy fit over being dumped by the type of girl his narrator doesn't usually dateshe's a bit plump, rather graceless, not beautiful by conventional standards. She is, of course, smart, which is important to 21-year-old William Harding, a working actor in New York City who admits he's got by on his good looks and charm. Certainly not his intellecthe's impressed by his ability to recite a long poem by Gregory Corso by heart in response to Sarah's reading to him from Adrienne Rich. His own mother warns him about the limits of life as "a handsome bullshitter," but William blunders along, full of his own importance as he lovingly records his every little foible and endearing personality trait, which seem to include smashing furniture when he's frustrated. Sarah, meanwhile, withholds sex, and hands him a tract on "Rape and the Twentieth-Century Woman." Pouting William must use a condom when the big moment finally comes. A Parisian interlude, where he alludes with false modesty to his career, contributes to their breakupshe realizes that she needs space, and William is sent packing, back to his beautiful, empty-headed girlfriend from the pastbut not before reciting Shakespeare to Sarah from the street outside her apartment.
This clumsily written novel takes itself very seriously, although it is mostly content to name but not to show: We have to take Hawke's vague descriptions of "brilliant" friends, "great" books, "stupid" hair on faith, and then there's that "French" moustache on a waiter in . . . France. Skip the movie, if there is one.
and post it to your social network
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
See all customer reviews >