Hermes 3000

Hermes 3000

Kotzwinkle, William

Language: English

Publisher: Pantheon Books

Published: Dec 1, 1972

Words: 42006
Pages: 176


In this great first novel, William Kotzwinkle has created a magnificent tapestry of human emotion. The weave is glamorous and bizarre. The characters are: Gladys, an old woman who sits all day in the Golden Cafeteria; Catherine the Great, who shows her ability on the fields of love as well as war; Private Razamov, who is given a strange assignment by his Empress; Lord George Beaverboard, who advertises for an ornamental hermit; Douglas Perky, a naked hermit who burrows beneath the ground, while the bombs of the blitz burst over London; The Reverend Demple Cupplewaite, who lives in a country village of the late nineteenth century; Julius Raker, a retired businessman who discovers his destiny in the Metropolitan Museum of Art; Herman Jorgen, whose visions of madness are as wild and brilliant as the sunflowers of Van Gogh; Alexander Montrose, a philosophy professor who finds truth in a beautiful woman's arms. By following the characters along their separate paths, which crisscross at critical moments, we are gradually led to the central realization of the book - the secret of Hermes, god of the roads - that all time is one time and all places the same.

“Here is a marvelous Zen koan of a novel filled with questions that cannot be answered and answers that cannot be denied... In his quietly dazzling way, the author flashes pictures of life as it should be: Pain, if not explained, is at least made bearable; and the mind-body problem is both acknowledged and made meaningless in one stroke. The poem of reincarnation is whispered repeatedly, a tremendous secret, well-known yet naggingly elusive. Earth is a museum and we its treasures, exhibited briefly then stored in the basement until it’s time to present us once again. Beyond parody, beyond pathos...a book to be read and reread. Kotzwinkle is very fine!’ —Tom Nolan, Los Angeles Times

From Kirkus Reviews

This novel-length opus is not really a novel but a set of very Kotzwinklian stories apparently interleaved. The retinue includes a soldier posted by Catherine the Great to guard a flower, a British MP's "ornamental" garden hermit, a retiree who suffers a coronary and enters Chinese paradise in the Metropolitan Museum, the madman of the Tay Road-O, and others no less quaintly destined. All meant, it may be, to constitute some sort of slantwise cross section of life, though never quite the life of this world no matter how many times he brings us back to Broadway (where ladies in shapeless furs poison each other in a blowsy cafeteria). The strength of his style here as in the past is a swift intuitive rightness -- remember "Marie" from Elephant Bangs Train -- which can't be faked and is almost impossible to sustain. The strain of trying can glare (dopey sexplay and names like the aliases of unsuccessful criminals) but there are still those intermittent flashes, bright enough.