THE HAWKLINE MONSTER: A Gothic Western by Richard Brautigan


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More Brautigan: smug, clever, silly, short and sweet. . .metaphysics reduced to the evil intent of a light inside a jar of chemicals vs. the benevolence of its guilt-ridden shadow, and you expect that happy ending, with a catch. . . . The Western part of this collaboration consists of a pair of soft-hearted hired killers who are almost indistinguishable; the Gothics are the identical Misses Hawkline who engage them to dispose of a monster who has already metamorphosized their scientist father into an elephant-foot umbrella stand and after striking down the giant butler, mischievously transforms him into a dwarf while the Westerns and the Gothics are conjugating in an upstairs bedroom. Even without a Harvard education, those gunslingers figure out the problem lies at the bottom of a leaded crystal jar in the lab. A glass of whiskey turns the evil chemicals to diamonds, restores father, butler and order to the Hawkline household. . .but in a postscript wealth, the double-ring ceremony and the sense of finality to the adventure dissolves into mundane divorce, petty criminality, accidental death and obscurity. Along the way, those particular Brautigan apercus (""Just like a short history of man, there were two towns in the county""), punctuating emphatic chapter heads that make no sense till you've read the chapter, minor characters that seem sprung from tall tales of the Far West, that spareness of image, succinctness of dialogue, one of the most distinctive voices in contemporary fiction, here or anywhere, like him or not.

Pub Date: Sept. 1st, 1974
Publisher: Simon & Schuster