Rules for a Knight by Ethan Hawke (5 out of 5)
This was the perfect book to read between busy periods at work this week. It’s small, compact, and gets to the heart of the matter quickly. It’s marketed on the book itself and on the distributor website as fiction, but I’m telling you motherfuckers–this is philosophy. I haven’t had a book with the parallel slants of Western and Eastern philosophy affect me this much since Robert Pirsig’s “The Art and Zen of Motorcycle Maintenance”. And that was a long, long time ago. This book is the perfect gift/ stocking stuffer for the holiday season for that deep-thinker in your immediate circle. If you weren’t aware, Ethan Hawke has written several other books, both of which were pretty good books and NYT bestsellers. This one? Already on back order everywhere amid a buzz of epic proportions. And it just came out in October. We had it on order since, and only just got it on Wednesday. As I said, under 200 pages, and a quick read, but one that stays with you.
A father, a knight leaving for battle, is worried he may not return from battle. He then leaves a “letter” for his children, of his journey and the rules that a knight should have. Each chapter is a character trait (humility, courage, onward to the inevitable death) that he hopes the children will learn and put into practice on their solitary journey through life (without him. That’s important to remember while reading it). There is philosophy here, as well as some Hawke family history, in the form of one Lemuel Hawke, from centuries before Ethan’s time. It’s obvious to the reader that this is a project that the author really believed in and made a point of tying in centuries of philosophy into everyday common sense. It’s also apparent that Hawke is leaving a journal of sorts to his own children. Whether you have children or not, this is the type of book that makes its points succinctly, accurately, and with a punch to the gut. I was flipping out at various parts of this book. Life could be so simple if people followed simple rules, like the ones laid out in the book by the knight. And in this time of year? Perfect for some people to sit their asses down and read the book. Give it to someone you love, or someone who needs help finding their way. This just might help a bit.