As a college professor, I expose my students to a lot of culture (films, music, books, art). From time to time, a plucky student insists that I must read a book or see a particular movie. I’m glad to oblige, if it doesn’t involve too much of a time suck. Recently, one student insisted that I read John Hawkes’ The Lime Twig. He went as far as to procure it from the library for me. I’d read Hawkes’ Second Skin when I was in college, liked it enough, plus The Lime Twig was only 170 pages, so I was in.
No question Hawkes is an excellent writer, laying out beautiful passages and turns of phrase. The Lime Twig sets quite a mood amidst the desperate class of horse racing folk and petty criminals in post war England. The Lime Twig is a caper about a stolen horse and the criminals and hangers on trying to get a piece of the action. For chunks of the novel however, the narrative is bit too opaque. Character motivations are often fuzzy and it’s hard to discern what’s driving the main characters. Ultimately, I was left with beautiful scenes, but I’m not sure I always cared. As I get older, I’ve become a little less enamored by experimental lit and novels that seem to go out of their way to hide the story. An easy enough and intriguing read, but at times, unnecessarily frustrating.