Saturday, June 6, 2009

i just read the hawkline monster and i loved it so much i'm gonna have to blog about it. have you all read it? if you haven't, get on it! :)

i read the hawkline monster the other day, and i'm still wrapped in it, like a dream. i can't shake it even as i read other books.

you have to read it. i was lucky enough to stumble upon it in the bookstore literally around the corner from my apartment, and for four dollars. original cover price was a buck seventy-five but i would pay a LOT MORE for this book. maybe 10,000 dollars. but i'm glad i got it for four. :)

i just finished a jim thompson but i really just want to read it again. i'm writing a blog entry about it now. :)

p.s. i am tempted to cobble together my blog entry from these paroxysms of pleasure i keep posting on the internet about the hawkline monster. :P


and i did. at least all that stuff up there i have blabbed onto the internet. there was more but since it was a conversation and not really my writing, i'll write about it here, as these ejaculations are hardly sufficient in communicating my delight in this book. even now, i would rather be reading it than writing this. it is helping me to understand what kind of prose i love to read more than any other book to be able to name it. to say, "read the hawkline monster by richard brautigan, and you will know prose i love"; it's a gift.

the gift is actually from a friend, ben loory. he's just finished his own book, stories for nighttime and some for the day, and i decided to read the hawkline monster because we were discussing his influences. i'll say here and now that i love his book -- i've had the privelege of reading it in advance of publication, and it's only in reading someone like brautigan do i begin to understand why. they both give story as essence, a terse dream that is the opposite of jane austen's two inches of etched ivory. they etch their lines purposely as she did, and bring it lyricism, brautigan with his metaphors, and loory with his metre. but austen's world, while beautiful in its own way, is a small one, and constrained and her analogy points to the limited sphere of her world i see as a woodcut, deeply ingrained, whereas the simplicity of the approach these men use is rather different for me. the effect in my mind is this: the spare words become a paint brush that with three wide strokes paint in watercolour a world that becomes more vivid and real every moment i stare at the canvas.

even now, as i write this, still i want to be reading the hawkline monster again. i'm distracted by a pain below my shoulder blade, and i know i should probably eat something because those honey nut cheerios were a long time ago, but i also know i should try at least to exorcise this need to be with this book, stop thinking about greer and cameron, the laconic heroes that have so bewitched me, and have me constantly in conflict as to whom i love the better. i miss the shadow, the honourable shadow. i miss the stark pleasure that this book gave me when i was reading it, which by the way, i could not do straight through. i would stop and absorb my feelings about the story, about the characters and how alive they were to me.

i am enamoured with the distillate of story, which raymond chandler thought was just the starting point but which i am convinced is a reward in its' own right. brautigan and loory have made me sure.


  1. You know, it was Ben (i think) that got me interested in Brautigan and then you for this particular novel. So I guess I have both of you to thank. I don't know how Brautigan's prose has escaped my notice for so long. It seems like a shame I haven't been reading him all this time.

  2. i'm sure it was ben. as he pointed out to me, he's been lauding this book for a long time. of course, it's not like i wasn't paying attention to how much he loved it, i just wasn't sure if i would like it. i think i can remember lara talking about brautigan as well, about trout fishing in america, and i have to tell you that that title didn't not capture my fancy. i suspect part of it is that one doesn't want to give too much away when talking about a writer like brautigan. his spare style (probably rooted in the same place as his poetry) might be ruined by an attempt to provide a precis of the work itself. the challenge in writing this was whether i should in fact say anything concrete about the writing itself at all.

  3. I didn't realize that we were again talking about Brautigan. I am currently awaiting amazon delivery of Trout Fishing in America, The Pill versus The Springhill Mine Disaster, and In Watermelon Sugar per Dan's previous praise. I'm very excited to discover this prose for myself.

  4. hey kerry: the brautigan poetry was exciting to me but ben says this book is different from the rest, the only extended narrative. having only read it, i'm not sure how to contextualize it within his oeuvre. we really need a brautigan expert for that. :)

  5. hi mo! it's me, ben! i liked what you said about the brush strokes and the watercolor... i've always thought of myself as a creator of hand grenades... you know, some writers create these huge landscapes filled with all these horses and armies and stuff... i always just hope if you can hand somebody a hand grenade and convince them to pull the pin, then they can probably imagine the horror of war pretty well on their own... :D

    brautigan is the awesomest kind of awesome, and the hawkline monster is my favorite of his books. but i didn't exactly mean it was the only extended narrative, because there are many of them... what it is, is the only one (that i've read) that sort of transcends brautigan himself. all the other ones are still brautigan talking as more or less brautigan about what is probably more or less brautigan's life... they are very personal in feel... in hawkline he submerges himself in the story to a much greater degree, he goes somewhere ELSE. he takes the story much more seriously. (though not, thankfully, too seriously! or else there'd be no point to it being him writing it.)

    damn, now i want to go read more brautigan.

  6. i'm glad you came by for clarification ben. i knew i didn't have the foggiest notion of what i was talking about beyond my love for this one particular book which i actually have read. well, make that two books that i actually have read, and loved. :)