Fiction by John Hawkes
Travesty is John Hawkes’s most extreme vision of eroticism and comic terror. In the south of France, an elegant sportscar is speeding through the night, bearing a man, his daughter, and his best friend toward a fatal crash. As he drives, the “privileged man” justifies, in sustained monologue, his firm persuasion that willed destruction is the ultimate act of the poetic imagination. “What I have in mind is an ’accident’ so perfectly contrived that it will be unique, spectacular and instantaneous, a physical counterpart to that vision in which it was in fact conceived.” This is the final work in a triad of novels concerned with sex, myth, the imagination, and the absurd. The Blood Oranges (1971) is the acting out of a lyric dream; Death, Sleep & The Traveler (1974) a descent into the depths of psychic darkness to the edge of death; and Travesty (1976) an icily comic portrait of the poet as suicide and murderer. It is one of the most cruelly and brilliantly ironic works to be found in contemporary literature.