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The Hottest State: A Novel Paperback – September 30, 1997


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 208 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage; Reissue edition (September 30, 1997)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0679781358
  • ISBN-13: 978-0679781356
  • Product Dimensions: 7.9 x 5.1 x 0.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (163 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #443,142 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Yes, it's "that" Ethan Hawke. Ethan Hawke the actor. In this slim debut novel, he tells a coming-of-age tale of a fairly unpleasant young actor from Texas named William who lives in Manhattan and is working his way through an ugly little relationship with a singer/songwriter named Sarah. William's parents married young and split up early and he's not too happy with the world at large. Sarah can't quite make heads or tails of her mother. The pair has sex in the bathroom and talks quite a bit about their relationship. It all has a certain ring of truth, but at this point it's probably safe to say that Hawke's movie agent will probably make a better living off the young actor/writer than Hawke's literary agent. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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. Paperback rights to Vintage; audio rights to Time Warner AudioBooks; author tour.
Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

I look forward to reading more from him!
Jack Kruse
I've just finished to read this book, and it liked me very much because it made me feel like i was in William's shoes, even if i am a woman.
Giada Maldini
The way Hawke captures your interest in enthralling.
Karielle @ Books à la Mode

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

53 of 53 people found the following review helpful By Karielle @ Books à la Mode TOP 1000 REVIEWER on September 29, 2010
Format: Hardcover
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.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on June 25, 1998
Format: Hardcover
Ok. I 'll fess up. I knew absolutely nothing about this book before I read it, short of the fact that the author was the cutie who made both me and Robin Williams misty-eyed by shouting "Oh Captain, My Captain!" on top of a school desk. So I guess that Ethan, the actor was the source of the attraction to Ethan, the author's first novel -- Mr. Hawke was the reason that I began reading and the reason that I didn't quit reading after the first ten pages.
Because it was tempting to quit in the beginning. Actually, I put the book down several times, tired of the main character's relentless descriptions of women's breasts, (I'm not a prude, but too many breast comments get old, ineffective, and extremely, well, creepish), tired of his obvious intentions to be "deep" all the time, and tired of giving Ethan the chance to have his stuff read just because he's a star. Reality Bites.
But then I read on, haunted by that green heart on the cover which beckoned me to try again. And, really, I'm glad I did. Although at the beginning I thought I was in store for some overrated Gen X babble, Ethan did have some good ideas. Some of his passages were moving and right on, actually, as he traced a relationship from its magical start to its heart-wrenching finish.
The book also seemed highly autobiographical, (the main character is an actor, dropped out of college his first year to pursue an acting career), which made it fun, too. Obviously Ethan took the tried and true hint to "write what you know." Now, ladies and gentlemen, we know Ethan Hawke's a breast man, too.
All kidding aside, this first novel was an easy read, and worth a look at. Ethan can write, and with a first try like this one, hopefully we'll see more of him in the future.
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12 of 14 people found the following review helpful By joe koski on June 28, 2002
Format: Paperback
I am a little disapointed in all the bad press this book has gotten. I was impressed with it since the first time i saw it in a bookstore, when i flipped through the pages, read one paragraph, and knew that I'd love it.
Granted, I most likely picked it up because it was "the" Ethan Hawke, and if he wasn't "the" Ethan Hawke it most likely wouldn't have gotten the attention it has and I would have never read it, but I feel that his being "the" Ethan Hawke has also kind of made it harder for critics to swallow it. Which is a bummer because really, it's a great book.
Their are two things I loved about this book. One, his writing is unpretentious. He reminds me a lot of Hemmingway in his refreshing lack of detial. You don't get the feeling he's trying to prove he's a writer to the whole world by using as many descriptive words as he knows in every paragraph. The story moves along. It's an easy read, but that's a good thing.
The other thing I like, and this is most important, and really, the one thing I feel he deserves heaps of praise for, is he gets it right! He gets right on how it feels to be 20, stupid and in love. Or even better, in like, confused, and full of lust. Ethan Hawke brilliantly lays out a story (you do get the feeling that it's a little autobiographical) with such insight it's impressive. I'm jealos of his abilaty to create such a insightul portrait of a young man. This is one book that gets it right on.
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10 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Manola Sommerfeld on September 3, 2001
Format: Paperback
Here's a universal truth: at least once in our lives every one of us has fallen in love with the wrong person. And we have fallen in love despite the fact that we knew perfectly well that s/he meant trouble. This usually happens when you are young, at a time when it is almost impossible to reconcile hormones with common sense. There's nothing new here: Shakespeare already dealt with this in Romeo and Juliet, and lots of other authors did it before him. This is the single one thing that Hawke does well in this novel: Portray how incredibly reckless young people are with their lives in the name of "love". If it weren't for the fact that kids in their 20's are never going to listen to anyone, this should be mandatory reading.
William, who turns 21 in the novel, falls in love/lust with Sarah, who is E-X-T-R-E-M-E-L-Y messed up. William gets all head over heels about her, and it becomes obvious very quickly that this story is going to have a bad ending. Sarah has so much rotten baggage that you can chew it in every page. Hawke is a powerful writer in that he is able to elicit strong emotions from the readers. I wanted to slap Sarah over the head so badly! I wanted to tell her: enough with the bull! Then, i would turn around wanting to do the same thing to William. I could almost understand the amounts of devastation that William causes when upset (one more sign of the power of testosterone). He destroys kitchen cabinets, his hand, and even drops his contacts on the floor when they feel uncomfortable!
Some of the writing is very exaggerated and staged. If Hawke makes William speak like that because William is an actor, then OK. However, the climate in some of the situations was not conducive to remembering lines of any kind, so i go for the affectation option.
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