John Hawkes: Travesty

(2400 words)
  • Rita Ferrari (Independent Scholar - North America)

John Hawkes's novel Travesty (1976) is a one-hundred-and-twenty-eight page monologue spoken by “Papa” as he drives his sports car “at one hundred and forty-nine kilometers per hour on a country road in the darkest quarter of the night”, heading deliberately for a stone wall a meter thick. His passengers and audience are his twenty-five-year-old daughter, Chantal, who huddles on the floor in the back of the car vomiting, and his best friend, Henri, who sits wheezing in the passenger seat. As he speeds, Papa tries to account for his existence and his drive to end it: “Who does not fear the inexplicable fact of his existence?” he asks. “Who does not dread the unimaginable condition of not existing?&…

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Ferrari, Rita. "Travesty". The Literary Encyclopedia. First published 08 January 2001
[, accessed 05 July 2015.]