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Review: The Hottest State by Ethan Hawke

I have read Ethan Hawke’s The Hottest State. Or, actually, I’ve read the cover of it. Once. Because of guilt. I should tell you why.

The Hottest State was also made into a film. Most of the covers of The Hottest State I have seen are of this film cover. There’s a guy on the cover, Mark Webber. Mark Webber once came into Borders where I used to work. Not the Mark Webber who is an Australian professional car driver, no the Mark Webber I am talking about was in Snow Day. Sometimes when I tell people the story I’m about to tell you I say “Snow Day!” and they’re like “Huh?” and I describe the film and they sort of squirm a little because they don’t know what I’m talking about. I try to save face and then say, “How about Drive Me Crazy? He was the dorky kid.”

Turns out with Drive Me Crazy all anyone remembers is Adrian Grenier whose name reminds me of shampoo.

I actually knew all this about Mark Webber when he came into our store. He came in late one night and because I was the only one around (not sure where everyone else was? Crying in the office? Already unemployed after being laid off? Who knows). Anyway.

“Hey do you have the film The Hottest State?” Mark Webber asked me.

“Um, I think so? Let’s go find it.”

He was impressed that I knew where to go, that I didn’t have to type the film into our fancy (not so fancy) computer and stand there with him awkwardly as I tried to figure out where it was. “Have you seen it?” he asked as we walked together toward the movie section.

“No, but it’s based on a book written by Ethan Hawke. I know the book.”

We walked to where the film should be and there’s a copy! So exciting. I’d made a sale. Not that I’d get a commission on it or that anyone would really care or even that it would matter because Borders would eventually be gone, baby, gone, but in that moment I felt accomplished.

I looked at Mark Webber then and realized he looked familiar, but to be honest he looked like any one of the hipster guys I went to school with, and since the campus was nearby it seemed a practical possibility. He was looking at me too and the longer we looked at each other the more I thought maybe I actually knew him and we’d just been pretending not to know each other for this whole time. Awkward!

So to fix things I say, “Hey, you look familiar. Do I know you?”

“I’m an actor.”

“That’s cool!” At least, that’s what I say, but again, the school I went to was full of students wanting to be actors, who had acted in “films” which were really undergrad or grad school projects filmed on rented cameras.

“I’m in this film actually,” he said.

“Oh really?”

He then held the video up to his face and pointed a finger at the film and then back at his face again. I stood there looking at both blankly.

“Oh,” I said. We both stared at each other in silence.

“You should watch it,” he said. “It’s a good film.”

“Sure.”

We both stood there awkwardly for a moment. I thought that he was probably not going to buy the video. I wondered if this was what he did—went around to bookstores and video shops looking for this movie and telling employees they should see it.

“Okay, well, so…..” I said.

He said thanks and then left. I went back to shelving or whatever I was supposed to be doing at 10 or 11 during a weeknight while working at a bookstore.

Later, toward closing, I saw him with a bunch of friends hurrying out of the store. None of them had a copy of The Hottest State. None of them were carrying a Borders bag in which could include a copy of The Hottest State. I wondered where The Hottest State actually was.

Probably Texas.

*Note: This post was inspired by my review of James Franco’s Palo Alto that’s on Goodreads. Because of its popularity I decided I’d like to write more book reviews, but then I’d have to read more celebrity books, and there’s only so much time. These book reviews are my compromise.

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