Don't dismiss this book because it was written by the actor Ethan Hawke. It is well thought out and engaging. I couldn't stop reading it. Really spoke to me.
written by the actor ethan hawke this is a semi-autobiographical novel about a young star and a love affair. written in a vewry modern and very good prose style.
Ethan Hawke is one of those gorgeous people that, having read several of his books and seen many of his films, I have managed to convince myself that we're the same kind of people. He tends to write characters similar to some of the ones he plays in the movies - the tragically brilliant, bohemian, unwashed, hyper-dramatic poet/musician/writer/actor types. This one is no exception, and follows 20-year old William as he falls in love and gets his heart broken. At first, I wished that we had gotten to know Sarah (the girl) better, so that we could have fallen in love with her too, but then I realized that she's more or less incidental to the story. It's less about William falling in love with a particular person than it is him maybe learning HOW to love. Anyway, I'm well past twenty (as is Mr. Hawke), but I love his novels because they vividly return the exquisite tragedy of being twenty. One review of the novel read "It pleased me." That's an apt review. It pleased me too.
I was surprised at how well written this book once as it was written by the actor Ethan Hawke. Pretty good reading, fairly short too.
I liked this book. It was if one was watching a friend in a realationship that made no sense to anyone but the couple and then watching it deteriorate as you thought it would. William nearly loses his mind when he is shunned by Sarah and nearly loses himself. But he survives as he takes another step on his journey toward adulthood.
This 196-page trade paperback is a quick read. William is a self-involved boy (and self-loathing latent homosexual). Sarah is so poorly drawn I have no idea what her deal is.
From Publishers Weekly
Player of confused but adorable Gen X Romeos in films like Reality Bites and Before Sunrise, Hawke, 25, is easily conjured up as a stand-in for 21-year-old William Harding, the disaffected narrator of this slim first novel, a boy-meets-girl, girl-dumps-boy saga set in a grungy New York of aspiring actors, writers and singers. That William, a college dropout and budding actor, falls fast and hard for Sarah Wingfield, who fronts a band, teaches preschool and is a bit "funny looking," comes as a revelation to him, given his history of using his good looks for quick sex. Sarah casts William's sexual yearnings?and his white trash boyhood?into sharp relief by reading Adrienne Rich, toting a list of rape statistics and refusing to sleep with him. Their doomed romance is intercut with William's memories of his parents' breakup, of talks with his best friend and of his overheated teen relationship with Samantha, who still flits in and out of his life. When Sarah suddenly, inexplicably rejects him after William returns from making a movie in Paris, he descends into self-loathing and homosexual panic?and trashes his apartment. His callow cynicism about women and his flattened out, '90s rendition of Holden Caulfield ("Samantha wanted to have sex. She wasn't doing me any goddamn favors") grow wearisome. But Hawke's emotionally raw account of a world inescapably contracted is oddly affecting and sure to make many a teenage heart go pit-a-pat.
From Library Journal
Plenty of 25-year-olds have written novels worse than Hawke's, but very, very few of them wind up getting published. When singer/love interest Sarah asks actor/ protagonist William if he likes acting, William replies, " 'It's the only thing I've ever been good at.' " Hawke's novel does nothing to introduce any distance between creator and character on this score, although viewers of his films might disagree. The story is simple. William moves to New York, meets Sarah, and takes her to Paris. He doesn't treat her all that well, so she dumps him. Along the way the reader is treated to so many mixed metaphors, confused images, laughable similes, and hackneyed, banal emotional moments that one can only stop laughing long enough to wonder how this material got past a professional editor. A sample from a sex scene in which William and Sarah switch clothes: "I walked closer to herthis woman in my underwearseized by a strong desire to make it with her, to burst through her dress, taking her like a Scotsman (I am part Scottish)." Or after an extended tryst: "The scent of sex was thick. I never wanted to take a shower again." Not recommended.
From Kirkus Reviews
A first novel by the young actor featured in the Dead Poet's Society has a lot in common with the world of his film Reality Bites: It's a young man's idea of hip romance, with plenty of gestures to satisfy teeny-bopper fans. Hawke's mercifully brief story is really an extended hissy fit over being dumped by the type of girl his narrator doesn't usually date--she'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 intellect--he'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 breakup--she realizes that she needs space, and William is sent packing, back to his beautiful, empty-headed girlfriend from the past--but 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.
Well! I was expecting a little more romance out of this book, but I honestly could not put this book down. I read it in 3 hours. I thought, maybe a chapter or 2 before bed, it kept me up until 2am. Oops. It is an easy, smooth read. I really felt that Ethan used a lot of his own personal experiences to fill the book. His colorful words were refreshing. In my own opinion, I wished the ending would have turned out differently.....Read it, and make your own opinion. It make you think and wonder about the story, after you put it down. I'm still thinking about it today, (I read it last night), and I still wish it ended differently. I give it a 5 stars for it's smoothness. Good airport, vacation, or traveling book.
Meeting Sarah catapults William into a world of shame and ardor and unspeakable tenderness, and in six months he comes to know both the restless, overmastering ache of first love and the wild and ruinous grief it leaves behind.
It was an ok book. I finished it in about 1 week over summer
So I haven't updated Goodreads for at least a year. I've been reading, I've just been too lazy to review. So I'm gonna start again! I obviously can't review every book I read, but just for books I think deserve a review from me, or for books that I've been asked to review (if you are an author and would like to send me an ARC, send it on over! I'd love to read it and post a review!).
I found this book at Goodwill one day when I was scourging for used books. Most of the titles there are really weird (Reaching Heaven: You and Your Ways with God and the People Surrounding You. No thanks). But I found this one and saw the back cover. First of all, Ethan Hawke is quite the hunk (seriously). Maybe not anymore, but back when he was all hip and young, yeah. I didn't even know he had written novels, so being a fan of his movies, and his picture, I purchased the book for 12.5 cents (they were four books for 50 cents. Seriously! That's a good deal if I ever saw one. I highly recommend you go to your local Goodwill the next time you're in need of a good read. It's like a treasure hunt; most of the books there are slightly rubbish, but every once in a while, you find a real gem. Plus, you could save a fortune off of Barnes and Noble). I'm glad I did. Here is Ethan Hawke's The Hottest State:
Blurb: 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.
Ethan Hawke really will break your heart. The Hottest State chronicles one year in the life of young, dashing William Harding: aspiring actor and charming lover. When he first meets Sarah, a girl unlike any he's ever seen, he knows from the beginning that he's a goner. She's beautiful. She's elusive. Every little thing she does strikes William greatly. The passion the two share, the chemistry; it's all so surreal, that even he can't believe it. He knows right then and there, that she is the one, that she's the one that he'll love forever, but little does he realize that though she may be the pursuit of his pleasure, he is just a twenty-year-old fool in love, and by time he's twenty-one, he'll just be a broken-hearted man.
The way Hawke captures your interest in enthralling. He makes you become William Harding. I by all means, am not a helpless twenty-year-old boy in love, but throughout reading the book, I really felt like I was. All of William's movements and thoughts, I could relate with. It was so eerie. When William cried, I felt like crying, and when he got psychotic over his breakup with Sarah, I could feel the pain tugging inside of him. There's this one funny scene where he throws furniture around, and it's not funny like "haha!", but funny because, it's a scene where it should have been a turning point. I should have said "Wow, this William is nuts". But I didn't say that. Instead, I found myself cheering him on, because as crazy as he was, the emotion that was seeping throughout all of it, was so legitimate.
This novel was by far one of them most entertaining novels I've ever read, and not only because I feel like it's something straight out of my own past, or future, for that matter. Ethan Hawke will make you laugh, and he'll make you love William's story, but in the tragic end, Ethan Hawke will break your heart.
Radical Rating: 10 hearts- Extraordinarily amazingly wonderfully fantastically marvelous. ♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥
Thanks for reading :)