ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

‘The Hottest State’ by Ethan Hawke: Book Review, Or, Can Actors Write?

Updated on August 4, 2012

Do you feel just a little sceptical when you hear of one of your favourite actors has written a book?  (Or announced a few dates with her band.  Or come up with a cure for cancer in the lab in his garden shed).  Why is it that actors always do want to be ‘taken seriously’?  (And why is it that they seem to assume that acting couldn’t possibly be ‘serious’?) 

christopherharte on Flickr/Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic (CC BY-SA 2.0)
christopherharte on Flickr/Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic (CC BY-SA 2.0) | Source

Certainly the end results are often embarrassing if not downright painful.  I’m not going to name names here – let’s cover up their shame in a great big cloak of invisibility – but there are some truly awful actor-bands out there.  And quite a number of terrible actor’s books. 

On the other hand, there’s always the odd virtuous exception.  I can’t claim to have read it myself, but Hugh Laurie’s fictional tale of gun-running and misbehaviour is generally attested to be a work of quite acceptable entertainment.  And although I  haven’t heard the actual record, anyone M. Ward is willing to record with must have some degree of talent and ability, even if it’s Zooey Deschanel.

One exception regarding the ineptitude of actorly forays into other areas of endeavour I do have personal experience of, however, is Ethan Hawke’s ‘The Hottest State’. It’s not a recent book, but it’s a reliable and fairly unarguable example of, what? An actor turning out a decent, readable novel, at minimum. Maybe a bit more than that.

The story concerns the meeting and romance between William, a young, fairly successful actor, and Sarah, a shy pre-school teacher. It’s emotionally intense, frustrating and affected in expression, rather like a lot of young love and young lovers. Published in 1996 by Little, Brown and Company, it had a powerful effect on me on first reading, and several subsequent re-readings at the time.

Not only that, but my prospective other half at the time was reading it too, though I didn't know that. And in one of the early conversations of our relationship, he observed to me that he had recently read a book that had had an intense, profoundly emotional effect on him. That’s it. No other clues! Out of all the other books in the world, I came up with the suggestion, ‘So, was it the Hottest State? Ethan Hawke?’

OOO-EEEE-OOO! Spooky huh? Of course, it was recently published, critically lauded, a popular choice… oh forget it. Out of thousands, tens, hundreds of thousands of books! It was well spooky!

So, how does ‘The Hottest State’ fare on reading many years later, with time and perspective to give a more balanced view of its merits and faults? I’ve recently come back to it for a further skim through and exploration, and come to the conclusion that the novel still holds its own and has real attractions. It’s just not quite as perfect as I remember it: Sarah just that little bit more new-agey and annoying, the emotional responses and expectations of the reader just a little heavily directed and elicited. But still, pretty damn good!

You know. For an actor.


    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    No comments yet.


    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at: ""

    Show Details
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)