• A Bright Ray of Darkness

  • By: Ethan Hawke
  • Narrated by: Ethan Hawke
  • Length: 7 hrs and 38 mins
  • 4.2 out of 5 stars (9 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

Brought to you by Penguin.

The first novel in nearly 20 years from the acclaimed actor/writer/director, A Bright Ray of Darkness is a book about art and love, fame and heartbreak - a blistering story of a young man making his Broadway debut just as his marriage implodes. 

A bracing meditation on fame and celebrity, and the redemptive, healing power of art; a portrait of the ravages of disappointment and divorce; a poignant consideration of the rites of fatherhood and manhood; a novel soaked in rage and sex, longing and despair; and a passionate love letter to the world of theatre, A Bright Ray of Darkness showcases Ethan Hawke's gifts as a novelist as never before. 

Hawke's narrator is a young man in torment, disgusted with himself after the collapse of his marriage, still half-hoping for a reconciliation that would allow him to forgive himself and move on as he clumsily, and sometimes hilariously, tries to manage the wreckage of his personal life with whisky and sex. What saves him is the theatre: in particular, the challenge of performing Shakespeare in his Broadway debut under the leadership of a brilliant director. Searing, raw and utterly transfixing, A Bright Ray of Darkness is a novel about shame and beauty and faith, and the moral power of art.

©2021 Ethan Hawke (P)2021 Penguin Audio

What listeners say about A Bright Ray of Darkness

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Brilliant performance, clever storyline

Absorbing and powerful performance with a story line packed with insight on life and being a man. Highly recommended!!’

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 02-08-21

A beautiful, outstanding novel

Beautifully written, superbly narrated, a complete joy. I can't remember when I last enjoyed a novel so much. It is uninhibited, hilarious, thrilling and uplifting. And anyone missing the thrills of live theatre will find ample compensation in the vivid account of a blood and thunder Broadway production of Henry IV Parts 1 and 2. You won't find a more completely immersive and enjoyable novel on Audible. Well done Ethan Hawke!

4 people found this helpful

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  • Mark
  • 03-29-21

Robust, Sinewy and Beautifully Written

My biggest fear with this novel was that it would be a vanity project full of self - indulgent, whiny 'A List' first world narcissistic naval gazing 'woe is me' claptrap. Well, that was a big mistake on my part. It is actually a brilliant novel that completely absorbed me in the world of the theatre as the cast prepare for a Broadway run of Henry IV. The work is a scathing satire as well as a gorgeous and heart rending love letter. It is also lyrical, funny and muscular at the same time. It is superbly narrated by the author who clearly has no qualms about presenting his lead as an ego driven, self - delusional film star cum wannabe stage actor (with a collapsing marriage) who is loved and loathed in equal measure. The other cast members are exquisitely drawn characters, be they aspiring jobbing actors or seasoned monsters of the stage. I loved this book and Ethan Hawke has boldly and bravely reinvigorated the novel much as the cast did with the play.

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  • R Beirne
  • 04-27-22

An absolute joy

I have to say the description didn’t do this book justice, it’s so much more than the summery can capture.
Intelligently written, funny and moving in equal measures.

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  • S K B
  • 02-11-22

Memorable, funny and engaging.

Brilliant performance by Ethan Hawke. His words, his delivery. Very touching with a positive philosophical vein running through it. Helped me look for light during a tough time.

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  • Solaire
  • 06-05-21

A glorious listen

This was great fun. A debauched self-sabotaging protaganist, laugh out loud moments, wince-inducing moments, great narration, and I learned a few things about Shakespeare too.

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  • V.R W.
  • 04-26-21

Great Listen

Just loved this . Clever story, great characters. Especially liked the intertwining relationships between people and different perceptions characters have of one another. I know I will listen to this again someday and discover more it as it is so clever and full.

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  • Helen Madigan
  • 02-20-21

Compelling

I had no idea Ethan Hawke was a novelist until I heard him discussing this book on Radio 4. intrigued, I thought I'd give it a go. I was not disappointed. I absolutely loved the passages where he describes his experiences on stage and I found myself yearning to see a Shakespeare play again soon. It's an intimate and painful journey that we make with William Harding as he navigates the end of his celebrity marriage and his debut on Broadway, but so very satisfying. Beautifully read by the author.

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  • Michael Knight
  • 09-14-21

A roller coaster

A simple, yet poignant and deep story. Prepare to feel a range of emotions; fear, disgust, sadness and laughter. Would make an excellent comparative experience with Birdman. I mostly enjoyed the Hottest State, Hawke’s first novel but this is much much better.