The Fan Man, a cult comic novel published in 1974 by the American writer William Kotzwinkle is told in a stream of consciousness style monologue by the narrator, one Horse Badorties, a down-at-the-heels hippie living a life of drug-fueled befuddlement in New York City. Written in colorful, vernacular “hippie-speak”, it tells the story of the main character’s hapless attempts to put together a benefit concert featuring his own hand-picked choir of 15-year-old girls.
Horse is a somewhat tragic, though historically humorous street figure with echoes of other famous characters in popular culture, such as Reverend Jim Ignatowski of Taxi fame. In his inability to follow through on anything to completion, he displays symptoms of attention-deficit disorder, though this could equally be drug-induced. His defining characteristic seems to be the joy he finds in renting or commandeering apartments, which he then fills with street-scavenged junk until, full to bursting, he moves on to his next “pad”. The book’s most memorably absurd section is the chapter titled “Dorky Day”, which features the repetitive statement of “Dorky” by Horse as a cathartic mantra to dispel the ennui of a dead-end day.
William Kotzwinkle, the author, has a reputation as something of an eccentric. In interviews, he has described himself as, The swimmer in the secret sea. Whether or not this is true is anyone’s guess!
What is true is how boldly he uses language to create mystifying narratives that all but defy description or definition. In many circles, this might be known as magic.Kotzwinkle also put his considerable gifts to work in fashioning a spellbinding tale of an extra-terrestrial who must find his way home. E.T. went on to become one of the most successful motion pictures ever made. And it all began with a little imagination!