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Authors: William Kotzwinkle

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The Fan Man

BOOK: The Fan Man
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The indestructible comic cult classic starring the legendary Horse Badorties, founder of Dorky Day

This short, artfully structured, supremely insane novel is Buddha’s story, turned inside out… Horse Badorties walks into American literature a full-blown achievement, a heroic godheaded head, a splendid creep, a sublime prince of the holy trash pile… send congratulations to William Kotzwinkle, also a hero, man.

William Kennedy,
New Republic

A delightfully, often devastatingly funny novel… William Kotzwinkle is a first-rate fabulist and has created in Horse Badorties a new kind of American character who, while dwelling in the realms of the fantastic, touches upon far more aspects of contemporary life then do many so-called American characters… (Horse is a) kind of Ginger Man, Lucky Jim, Huck Finn, and Easy Rider all mixed up in one… a marvelous creation.


The landmark novel of the dusking of the Age of Aquarius after its beatnik-hippie, speedfreak-pataphysician, revolutionist-artist Lower East Side decade-long summer of love – be-ins, psychedelics, dumpster prospecting, tenant squatting – is William Kotzwinkle’s The Fan Man.

Herbert Gold

Kotzwinkle’s story of a drug-flavored, flailing genius is a fine and funny piece of work that deserves to outlive many more studious efforts to limm the psychedelic ethos – and to wind up, perhaps, in some college lit class of the future, along with Thompson and Wolfe, all examples of a rare and exotic strain of experience that crept into the literature of the sixties and seventies.

Rolling Stone

Bill Kotzwinkle is one of the few American writers in complete control of his materials, and his materials seem to come from somewhere deep down. The Fan Man is nearly flawless and seamless, as nearly as I can tell.

Kurt Vonnegut

Kotzwinkle has invented a human dada, full of one-line gags and comic perceptions.

The New York Times Book Review

Old Horse is one hell of a character, man.”

The Fan Man cuts through so many games that it leaves a trail of clear light.

Ram Dass

This is one of my favorite books. Ever… The sixties are long gone (sigh). But William Kotzwinkle’s creation of a doped-up, cooled-out street bum – whose prize possessions include the self-given mantra
and a fan that hums with the universe – lives on. Go on. Check it out.

QPB Review




The Novel by


Drawings by


Forward by


Copyright © 1974, 2013 by William Kotzwinkle
Illustrations Copyright © 1979, 2013 by Keith Bendis
Forward copyright © 1994 by Kurt Vonnegut, 2013 by Estate of Kurt Vonnegut

All rights reserved, which includes the right to reproduce this book or portions thereof in any form whatsoever.
This is a fictional story, created solely by the author.
Any similarity to real persons or events is entirely coincidental.

Layout: Cheryl Perez

No content from this book, whether whole or in part, may be copied, reproduced, licensed, stored in a retrieval system, distributed, or transmitted by any means, electronic or mechanical, by photocopying or recording, without the expressed written consent of the copyright holder, William Kotzwinkle.





Foreword to the Twentieth-Anniversary Edition

Chapter 1: Horse Badorties’ Number One Pad

Chapter 2: Horse Badorties’ Satchel

Chapter 3: Horse Badorties’ Bottle of Piña-colad

Chapter 4: A Knight of the Hot Dog

Chapter 5: The Overcoat That Went to the Bronx

Chapter 6: Fugue in A Minor

Chapter 7: Horse Badorties Dreams

Chapter 8: Horse Badorties’ Number Two Pad

Chapter 9: About a Spoonful

Chapter 10: The Wonderful Yellow School Bus

Chapter 11: The Mad Dialer

Chapter 12: Commodore Schmuck on the Water

Chapter 13: Commodore Schmuck Is Betrayed at the Bay of Crabs

Chapter 14: The Fan Man in the House of the Dead

Chapter 15: The Fan Man Gets the Shaf

Chapter 16: Far Out, Man

Chapter 17: The Elephant Dance

Chapter 18: Horse Badorties’ Four Pads

Chapter 19: Hawkman Lives!

Chapter 20: The Doctor Foot-Itch Miracle Cure

Chapter 21: It’s Dorky-Day Once Again!

Chapter 22: Good-bye Horse Badorties’ Four Pads

Chapter 23: >The Avatar at Work

Chapter 24: Uncle Skulky

Chapter 25: The Fan Man Eats It

Chapter 26: Something Calls to the Fan Man, Faintly

Forward to the Twentieth-Anniversary Edition

This is music to be played in the head, and only the quickest, least inhibited sight-readers can play it as written, and thus hear head music the likes of which, prior to its publication in 1974, had never been heard. It was and remains important, but, since it requires its readers to be skilled performers, it can never be for everyone.

And it is especially not for those who require writers, no matter how seemingly hilarious or how bizarre their subject matter, to indicate that they are in fact solid citizens, treasurers of sanity devoted to the well-being of their communities. In this book neither the author nor any character in his cast offers the wispiest hint as to how healthy and reasonable people should feel about its hero, Horse Badorties. The moral stabilizer in the story, take it or leave it, is like the busted junk Badorties keeps buying for chaotically imagined future uses. It is what Badorties thinks of himself while fog bound by drugs and absolutely terminal incompetence and loneliness.

One must understand that in this book Badorties is the only judge, and that has to be judge enough, or, again, this book cannot be for you. It is like an egg. Everything which is supposed to be inside the shell is in there. Good luck to the egg, and good luck to you.

Kurt Vonnegut
January 1994




Chapter 1
Horse Badorties’ Number One Pad

I am all alone in my pad, man, my piled-up-to-the-ceiling-with-junk pad. Piled with sheet music, with piles of garbage bags bursting with rubbish and encrusted frying pans piled on the floor, embedded with unnameable flecks of putrified wretchedness in grease. My pad, man, my own little Lower East Side Horse Badorties pad.

I just woke up, man. Horse Badorties just woke up and is crawling around in the sea of abominated filthiness, man, which he calls home. Walking through the rooms of my pad, man, through broken glass and piles of filthy clothes from which I shall select my wardrobe for the day. Here, stuffed in a trash basket, is a pair of incredibly wrinkled-up muck-pants. And here, man, beneath a pile of wet newspapers is a shirt, man, with one sleeve. All I need now, man, is a tie, and here is a perfectly good rubber Japanese toy snake, man, which I can easily form into an acceptable knot looking like a gnarled ball of spaghetti.

SPAGHETTI MAN! Now I remember. That is why I have arisen from my cesspool bed, man, because of the growlings of my stomach. It is time for breakfast, man. But first I must make a telephone call to Alaska.

Must find telephone. Important deal in the making. Looking around for telephone, fighting my way through piles of sheet music, man, piled up to the ceiling. And here is an electric extension cord, man, which will serve perfectly as a belt to hold up my falling-down Horse Badorties pants, simply by running the cord through the belt loops and plugging it together.

Lookin’ through the shambles wreckage busted chair old sardine can with a roach in it, empty piña-colada bottle, sweet sticky gummy something on the wall, broken egg on the floor, some kind of coffee grounds sprinkled around. What’s this under here, man?

It’s the sink, man. I have found the sink. I’d recognize it anywhere …
wait a second, man … it is not the sink but my Horse Badorties big stuffed easychair piled with dirty dishes. I must sit down here and rest, man, I’m so tired from getting out of bed. Throw dishes onto the floor, crash break shatter. Sink down into the damp cushions, some kind of fungus on the armrest, possibility of smoking it.

I’m in my little Horse Badorties pad, man, looking around. It’s the nicest pad I ever had, man, and I’m getting another one just like it down the hall. Two pads, man. The rent will be high but it’s not so bad if you don’t pay it. And with two pads, man, I will have room to rehearse the Love Chorus, man, and we will sing our holy music and record it on my battery-powered portable falling-apart Japanese tape recorder with the corroded worn-out batteries, man, and when we play it back and listen to it we will not be able to hear it. How wonderful, man.

Sitting in chair, staring at wall, where paint is peeling off and jelly is dripping and hundreds of telephone numbers are written. I must make a telephone call immediately, man, that is a MUST.

Sitting in chair, staring at wall. Unable to move, man, feeling the dark heavy curtain of impassable numbness settling on me, man. Roach crawling up the wall. Yes, man, even my roaches have roaches.

Falling back to sleep, head nodding down to chest, arm falling off side of chair, fingers touching smooth plastic. I’ve found the phone, man. It was right beside me all the time, man, like a good little animal, and I am holding it up, man, and there is margarine in the dial holes. This, man, is definitely my telephone. My avenue of communication is now Ma Bell into whom I am inserting my dial finger, man, again and again. She’s excited, man, she’s responding… .

“… hello? … hello, man, this is Horse Badorties … right, man, I’m putting together a little deal, man. Acapulco artichoke hearts, man, lovely stuff … came across the Colorado River on a raft, man, it’s a little damp, but other than that … can you hold on a second, man, I think I hear somebody trying to break through the window.”

I cannot speak a moment longer, man, without something to eat. I am weak from hunger, man, and must hunt for my refrigerator through sucked oranges, dead wood, old iron, scum-peel. Here it is, man, with the garbage-table wedged tightly against it. Tip the table, man, this is no time for formalities, I’m starving.

Some kind of mysterious vegetable, man, is sitting in the refrigerator, shriveled, filthy, covered with fungus, a rotten something, man, and it is my breakfast.

Rather than eat it, man, I will return to my bed of pain. I will reenter the Bardo of Dreams, man, if I can locate my bed. It’s through this door and back in here somewhere, man. I must get some more sleep, I realize that now. I cannot function, cannot move forward, man, until I have retreated into sleep.

Crawling, man, over the bureau drawers which are bursting with old rags and my used sock collection, and slipping down, man, catching a piece of the bed, man, where I can relax upon a pile of books old pail some rocks floating around. Slipping onto my yellow smeared stiff mortified ripped wax-paper scummy sheets, man, how nice. And the last thing I do, man, before I sleep is turn on my battery-powered hand-held Japanese fan. The humming note it makes, man, the sweet and constant melodic droning lulls me to sleep, man, where I will dream symphonies, man, and wake up with a stiff neck.

BOOK: The Fan Man
8.06Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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