John Hawkes

photo courtesy of Michael Ondaatjephoto courtesy of Michael OndaatjeJohn Hawkes was an experimental novelist who has been compared to innovative fiction writers including John Barth, William Gass, and William Gaddis.  He was quoted in the journal Wisconsin Studies in Contemporary Literature in 1965 as saying “I began to write fiction on the assumption that the true enemies of the novel were plot, character, setting and theme, and having once abandoned these familiar ways of thinking about fiction, totality of fiction or structure was really all that remained.  And structure – verbal and psychological coherence – is still my largest concern as a writer.”  Hawkes’ groundbreaking novels and short story collections include The Cannibal, The Beetle Leg, The Lime Twig, The Blood Oranges, Death, Sleep and the Traveler, TravestySecond Skin, Adventures in the Alaskan Skin Trade, An Irish Eye, and Sweet William:  A Memoir of an Old Horse.  He was the recipient of many honors and awards, including a Lannan Foundation award, Ford Foundation and Guggenheim fellowships, and grants from the National Institute of Arts and Letters and the Rockefeller Foundation.  A native of Stamford, Connecticut, Hawkes grew up partly in Alaska, graduated from Harvard College in 1949, taught English at Harvard from 1955 to 1958 and at Brown from 1958 until his retirement in 1988.  Along with Edward Honig, he was one of the founders of the Graduate Program in Creative Writing (now Literary Arts) at Brown.