After Barth, Pynchon and Barthelme, came W. Of the second wave, only Gass and Coover have remained on the literary landscape, though Hawkes had a strong critical following in France. After recently reading a novel by each Hawkes and Elkins, I would argue their semi-obscurity is undeserved. Both treat themes with narrative processes that are still quite relevant. Both possessed an immense amount of talent. I had read many years ago, his Adventures in the Alaskan Skin Trade.
|Published (Last):||12 February 2009|
|PDF File Size:||8.77 Mb|
|ePub File Size:||6.6 Mb|
|Price:||Free* [*Free Regsitration Required]|
January 1, s. Like the formless beast in the corner, it is just that, the formlessness, which makes it so terrifying. To flip on the light and simply understand the features and shapes of which we fear shatters our dread. This is true as well in horror films where the most frightening moments are those when we know there is some terror just around the corner or behind the door, and to see the monster in full as opposed to just a quick flash of claw or demonic eye destroys the real horror that only the imagination can provide.
In effect, Beetle Leg is so surreal, shifting and elusive because it is not made up of the actual forms and features of life, but of the shadows that they cast. As with McCarthy, the world is a cruel place where the innocent are prey to the violence and venery of the damned, and natural causes are more frightening than any villain.
It is often repeated that the only two deaths recorded in the Government City, made an official city due to the influx of workers settling there to work the dam project, are from natural causes. There is the incident of the ground breaking way and swallowing Mulge Lampson during a work accident and Hattie Lampson simply giving up the ghost in her old age.
The biggest crimes committed are acts of lust in shallow ditches alongside the road as if they were lowly animals without the knowledge of personal dignity that would keep them from fornicating in public. Those locked in the jail are so docile that they endure being kicked in the ribs by the deputy without even moving to protect themselves, while snakes strike at the heels of children. Nature is described in vivid, figurative language of tight poetic scenery — some of the best lines are those describing the land, whereas the town and characters are given very little, if any, description beyond thin references to misshapen features.
Like a proper western novel, the setting is as much a character as the people. If nature is a character, than it is surely the foe to the people, these people who are always struggling to keep it back by building up a dam, by cutting a city into it and using other forms of civilization to keep it back or controlled.
To try and pinpoint exact meanings to the swiftly flowing, black waters of plot is just as difficult as trying to merely follow where the flow is headed.
To try and make sense of the ethereal scenes that pass through our minds, the reader must look into the emotions, tone and feelings that resonate from the prose instead of trying to comprehend the logic of the actual events. The scenes appear grounded in reality, but transcend the real through highly symbolic features and surreal sense of things being slightly amiss by wrapping each action and description up in abstract, metaphorical poetry.
Leech also is described as missing one of his ribs, much like Adam from Genesis. The book of Genesis seems to play a very large role in the novel. There is enough evidence to argue that the rockslide that claimed Mulge was indicative of the casting out from Eden. He did eat of the forbidden fruit, as he allegedly bedded the cook during his year of marriage, and for that was swallowed up by the earth.
Or, perhaps, is this town truly representative of purgatory? The whole thread of the novels present occurs in one night, keeping everything bathed in a dark, shadowy gloom. This also could account for the strange handling of past and present, as time ceases to have meaning when faced with eternity.
Perhaps this is why they sit around drinking and joking the one day Mulge will crawl up through the dirt and walk the earth again, like Jesus back from the dead, signaling that they can move on and into heaven.
Mulge does border on being a Christ figure at times, his death being a symbol of the townspeople and the nightly pilgrimages Ma takes to the place of his death. To simply use the religious context of the novel however, would be to cheapen it and pigeonhole it into some corner of deconstruction and literary criticism and, ultimately, the Beetle Leg would be able to wiggle free from the straps holding it to that operating table and present itself as something much greater. There are many pagan allusions as well, and a great deal of effort is put forth by the Sheriff in his insistence that the moon and astrological signs are what controls not only the crops but our own destinies as well.
There are far more facets to this novel than can be addressed here, which is stunning for a novel of only pages. The dam project is most likely an outlet of the New Deal projects, and the damnation of the characters could be a reflection of their societal conditions that is only metaphored by the damnation of their souls.
This is clearly a novel that demands multiple readings, and I am excited for the discoveries I am sure to find on each repeat visit. This ideas of this book are ineffable, and can only, truly be done justice by simply reading this incredible novel. The effort is more than outweighed by the sheer beauty of the writing and careful handling of such vague, yet sprawling ideas that march forth through a procession of the damned towards a dramatic, apocalyptic climax.
The text, in this case The Beetle Leg, is the independent variable. Not at all. Not one little bit. For more than a week. For me it is unsalvageable. So pared down as to barely constitute a novel at all. Plot has run amok and not in a good way. Then suppose, for some unknowable reason, the director took those individual trailers, sequenced them end-to-end, then bookended them with mini-scenes involving two of the characters, who in no ways dominate the film as either protagonist or antagonist.
Voila, The Beetle Leg. Reading this has come too hot on the heels of bad experiences with The Master and Margarita and The Tetherballs of Bougainville. But the dirty realism strand of minimalism the two authors share is not inherited one from the other, rather what is used occasionally by the one McCarthy seems to be part and parcel of the other Hawkes , at least in TBL.
For they will surely die. He stopped reading and marked his place, and began to talk. It is a lawless country. Three stars, barely. January 1, Nathan "N. His books were introduced to me by John Barth, and nothing could be in starker contrast than the story-drunk Barth and the austerity of early Hawkes. But story, narrative, and plot, just like character, live rich lives in Hawkes, even if one needs to read far far b I continue to be perplexed by the early novels of John Hawkes.
But story, narrative, and plot, just like character, live rich lives in Hawkes, even if one needs to read far far below the text one is provided with. There is a richness here which haunts the reader even weeks later, an aesthetic experience which few aside from Herr Gass can champion as pure bliss. There remains in my mind of experience something darker than light in these Hawkes novels; something much closer to experience which has always found itself less than fully illuminated. Well, he is.
I mean, he does. Plus, the guy was only 23 when he wrote it: its very possible he had nothing much to say to begin with: how many of us do at that age? He has a way with words, a lulling cadence which carries mesmerizingly and draws you in Ma married Mulge who absconded with Thanga who Hawkes is relaxed about the linearity of time, but it does seem to me, to all be happening on one particular night with various flashbacks, cut throughs and snap shot transitions.
As to whats happening: beats me, but it does seem to anchor around the memory of one Mulge, buried in the beetle leg mountain: a shifting, moving hill which threatens to subsume Mistletoe. Warts and all. A dreamy, wordy, eerie tale. January 1, Vit Babenco It all happened once upon the time in the west…There is a sheriff and there is a cowboy… There are anglers and there are hunters… But there is no romance. Whatever went into the making or whatever had fallen short of the great pile, it hardened in It all happened once upon the time in the west…There is a sheriff and there is a cowboy… There are anglers and there are hunters… But there is no romance.
Whatever went into the making or whatever had fallen short of the great pile, it hardened in the sun, swelled at the base and now grew suddenly higher if watched in the pink light of noon. January 1, William2 Tried twice, found this unreadable. Read The Lime Twig instead.
January 1, Jimmy "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.
The concept of the death of the novel always sounded a little too gimmicky for my taste. John Hawkes is definitely one of them.
In other words, with every mention of Hawkes, the postmodern red flag always comes up, warning people that this is yet another one of those "difficult" writers. In fact, it would probably be in my best interest to read it four more times before writing this, but here goes I mentioned how the beginning of the novel sounds like a direct influence on Mccarthy, in particular his book No Country for Old Men. The law plays a similar role here, but the sheriff in the Beetle Leg has less of a morally upright tone.
However, he is just as beleaguered. For the most part, I still believe that Hawkes is an important influence on Mccarthy. The setting is a sort of post-apocalyptic west apparently this book is set in eastern Montana, that mostly sounds like conjecture, I saw no direct indication of that fact, but The sheriff is simply referred to throughout the book as the sheriff. The book begins with a passage from a book that he is reading aloud in the jail, he stops, puts the book down, and then begins, "It is a lawless country", indeed it is.
Each character, or subgroup of characters seem to function metaphorically, all making different statements about this post World War II wasteland. They lament the dead, feel nothing short of complete apathy for the future, and merely deal with their present situations. A great deal happens in the novel, but it seems to me that the most important detail to pay attention to is not the action that unfolds, but how the characters are dealing with it. There is a theme of restrained utilitarianism that prevails throughout.
People do not have as much time to think about why they are doing something. Early in the novel, when a little girl becomes concerned with the presence of a strange man hanging out by the lake, the sheriff has a rather pragmatic reaction. We had too many in them days anyway. Hawkes is definitely a talented prose stylist though. The one redeeming quality of the novel, especially for those who dislike floaty narratives, is his language. From the parapet of the truck a tinkling cloud of shot landed among the vandal herd, rock salt into the buttocks of cornered apple thieves.
In the headlights and streaming of the muskets, on motorcycle, as its rider fled, turned to flame under the little seat, reared, contorted into a snake embrace, and fell writhing in fire. A honking set up from the handless horn as the rubber bulb shrank in the heat". Nearly every paragraph in the book has this same consistent flow to it.
Also, one last note about the narrative; there is one. The employment of dredge and suction pump has done little toward changing the contour and imperfections of this yellow peakless sarcophagus of mud, in which fissures have appeared and deceptively closed, trapping wrestling mice and young lizards.
Suddenly, silently but briskly, out of the murky solid, emerges a floating clot of cheerless recognition. Sometimes he dreamed that he could yawn. January 1, Nate D The barest tracings of a story a myth? January 1, Cody If you tell me you understand all of it, I will tell you that you are absolutely full of shit to your face.
John Hawkes (novelist)
Reading John Hawkes second novel, the purgatorial western The Beetle Leg, is like being a small child awake during the night, staring in horror at some formless dark beast of the imagination that lurks within the shadows of their room. The plot, notorious for its obtuseness and the stunning surrealism which furthers the difficulty of finding a handhold from which to cling, churns forward with growing dread and silent monstrosities that rivals even that of Krasznahorkais It is a lawless country. Like the formless beast in the corner, it is just that, the formlessness, which makes it so terrifying. To flip on the light and simply understand the features and shapes of which we fear shatters our dread. This is true as well in horror films where the most frightening moments are those when we know there is some terror just around the corner or behind the door, and to see the monster in full as opposed to just a quick flash of claw or demonic eye destroys the real horror that only the imagination can provide. In effect, Beetle Leg is so surreal, shifting and elusive because it is not made up of the actual forms and features of life, but of the shadows that they cast. As with McCarthy, the world is a cruel place where the innocent are prey to the violence and venery of the damned, and natural causes are more frightening than any villain.
JOHN HAWKES THE BEETLE LEG PDF
It can be seen as a parody of the American West or, if you will, the American Western, or even a mocking of the American Dream. This novel is set in Government City and is about a dam. Ten years before the setting of the story, Mulge Lampson is buried alive while working on a dam. Indeed, it was the image of a man swimming in the mud that inspired Hawkes to write this story. When his brother Luke tries to find him in the mud, all Luke can find is a dead baby, which he returns to the mud.