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Surveyor Hardcover – July 1, 1998

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 250 pages
  • Publisher: MacAdam/Cage (July 1, 1998)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1878448811
  • ISBN-13: 978-1878448811
  • Product Dimensions: 1 x 5.2 x 7.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.9 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,944,067 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews Review

Something's bothering John Swope, a one-legged sculptor and veteran of the Korean War. He is insisting on paying up all his old bogus gambling debts and the crazy bets he lost (like the one where his desert buddy, Paul, guessed the exact height--to an inch--of a mesa). But what's bugging him? John and Paul, best friends, have been surveying a piece of the New Mexican desert for almost 30 years, working for the mysterious Foundation. For what--or whom--they've never known. They've drifted into lassitude, taking creative liberties with their surveying. "We add mesas and draws and sometimes whole mountain ranges, and we change the courses of rivers. It doesn't much matter to us anymore where we put things."

But underneath the nonchalance looms some menace. Mysteries begin to accumulate, as do an assortment of strangers compelled to the desert--Caliope, who's building a desert town designed to be washed away; the Dinosaur Men--archaeologists in search of ancient bone. When the two crusty surveyors discover that their measurements and readings taken in the past are incorrect, more seems to be shifting than the land's contours.

The descriptions of landscape are worth the price of this slim novel. "It's blue in the evening, and then purple again, and then black, as if all the day's shadows had collected themselves for the next day's inevitable explosion." G.W. Hawkes writes a prose both clipped and lyrical; he creates memorable characters with a few deft strokes. Surveyor is a novel sparsely yet lyrically written about friendship and the impact that mysterious intrusions into their desert world brings. --Hollis Giammatteo

From Publishers Weekly

The close friendship of surveyors Paul Suope and John Merline and their lifetime project surveying desolate Horse Gap, New Mexico, come to an end in Hawkes's haunting first novel (another novel, Semaphore, will appear in August). The two met during the Korean War. Paul, an engineer, drove an ambulance and aided John, a history major with an interest in painting and sculpture, after he lost a leg. After the war, they were hired together by a mysterious foundation to chart the landscape of New MexicoAan arrangement that has lasted for more than 30 years. They live a reclusive life, obsessed with their mission until various outsiders invade their turf: a beautiful Ph.D. film student, Caliope Jones, wants to build a scale-model town and flood it on film; and several Dinosaur Men, archeologists, hired by the same foundation to document old bones. Suope and Merline find themselves in conflict with the scientists over how to handle several buried Indian skeletons, and this is the beginning of their drift apart. In the meantime, the novel chronicles the men's great exploit, the exploration of the underground river that they name the Surveyor. Hawkes burnishes the narrative with metaphorical experiences, including rides down hidden rivers in secret caves, hallucinatory visions after a scorpion's bite and one of John's art pieces, which may include sky debris from UFOs. This elegiac evocation of an unearthly landscape and the two aging men who call it home intimates that some of life's mysteries can never be solved.
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Melanie J. Taormina on March 30, 2000
Format: Paperback
As with his other novels, G.W. Hawkes offers in Surveyor deeply felt characters, intriguing plot lines, and sharply honed language. Metaphor, mystery, and the best kind of suspense--that which comes from a caring for the characters drawn on the page--keeps the reader turning not just from page to page but chapter to chapter. The relationship between the two desert-bound friends, their history, and the "invasion" of their space by a beautiful woman comingle to create a richly intriguing and well-wrought tale. Hawkes is able to divine the mysteries of the deeper forces of our lives and reveal them--in subtle desert colors, in the rhythm of dialogue, in the stirrings and gaits of character--across the pages of Surveyor with brilliant craft and utmost care.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Joseph W. Smith III on March 30, 2000
Format: Paperback
I'm from Williamsport, where Hawkes teaches writing at Lycoming College, and so I've long known about his unusual story-telling gifts. This is a finely realized piece about two men who've been living alone for years, mapping the terrain in the American West, and the changes that occur in their relationship when various outsiders -- including a woman who has come to make an independent film -- come into their "terrain." Richly layered with unobtrusive symbols and interrelationships, also well-informed about its subject matter. Recommended.
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