Barry Hannah – Further thoughts on Ambition

Every once in a while I read a sentence, or a few, that makes my eyes roll back in awe. It’s been happening regularly since I began High Lonesome by the late, great Barry Hannah. His sentences are like Muhammad Ali right-hooks: works of art that knock your breath out. Not only stylistically; they are tooth-jarringly true. Take this from ‘Repulsed:

There’s never really time to develop one’s ambitions. They just throw you out there and you grab on to something handy like an amateur, in terror. Hardly time to hide your cheap scotch and prepare a face. Pa, for instance, had chosen wrongly, rushed to life insurance when he wanted to be a cowboy…

Is a better, sadder, funnier, more powerful indictment of cowardice imaginable? I’ve read Thoreau, Greer, McCarthy, Van Gogh, and Fitzgerald express the same sentiment and Hannah might just trump the lot of them.

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