The Fiction of Living

imgres.jpgJohn Hawkes is one of my favorite authors. He is famously quoted as saying:

I began to write fiction on the assumption that the true enemies of the novel were plot, character, setting and theme, and having once abandoned these familiar ways of thinking about fiction, totality of vision or structure was really all that remained.

In my mind this is what differentiates a more experimental and possibly vital form of fiction from the traditional form of fiction which might be considered as much for its entertainment value as it is for its artistic value.

Some writers refuse to be called “experimental” even when they obviously are twisting, extending, and experimenting with fiction: a good, if not as active, description then is “unconventional.”

Hawkes’ novel, Travesty, differs from traditional fiction in that it is an extended interior monologue which, apparently, coincides with the conclusion of the narrative: that cliché that flashes before our eyes. In some ways Travesty called to mind the movie Vanishing Point from earlier in the 1970s (without the Vietnam era mysticism and rebellious themes).

Since the entire novel is in effect stream-of-consciousness, there is no need for real time. But in the internal monologue there are elements of a past and a future, and of course a present as it speeds past Tara. The characters presented in the monologue are closely aligned with the time elements of the novel; the relationships of some are apparent, others not so much. Who is Pascal? Honorine? Chantal? Lulu? Henri?

Hawkes leaves us with an amazingly provocative question:

Imagined life is more exhilarating than remember life. Can it be true?

Here is the bibliography of John Hawkes works from Wikipedia:

imgres-1.jpgCharivari (1949)
The Cannibal (1949)
The Beetle Leg (1951)
The Goose on the Grave (1954)
The Owl (1954)
The Lime Twig (1961)
Second Skin (1964)
The Innocent Party (plays) (1966)
Lunar Landscapes (short stories) (1969)
The Blood Oranges (1970)
Death, Sleep, and the Traveler (1974)
Travesty (1976)
The Passion Artist (1979)
Virginie Her Two Lives (1982)
Humors of Blood & Skin: a John Hawkes reader (1984)
Adventures in the Alaskan Skin Trade (1985)
Innocence in extremis (1985)
Whistlejacket (1988)
Sweet William (1993)
The Frog (1996)
An Irish Eye (1997)

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