‘Coming Close To Donna’ by Barry Hannah


Coming Close To Donna by Barry Hannah, 1977

The magic trick:

Battering the reader with sex and violence and surrealistic morality

Well, I’ll say this much: there’s no way you can read this story and not have an opinion about it. Hannah gets lewd, crude and violent in “Coming Close To Donna.” Does all the shock add up to something resonant?

Maybe. I think, a little?

Dramatic acts – namely, loss of virginity and fights to the death for love – flit by without pause for reflection. Nothing in this world seems to matter much. These characters are caught up in a bizarre mix of poses and materialism. The way things look are more important than the way things are.

I was put off by the story at first, but it’s sticking with me. Reading it is a little bit like taking a heavy blow to the head, but the story certainly leaves a mark. And that’s quite a trick on Hannah’s part.

The selection:

My age is twenty. I tried to go to college but couldn’t sit in the seats long enough to learn anything. Plus, I hated English composition, where you had to correct your phrases. They cast me out like so much wastepaper. The junior college system in California is tough. So I just went back home. I like to wear smart clothes and walk up and down Sunset Strip. That will show them.

By now, Donna is naked. The boys, Hank and Ken, are still battering each other out in the cemetery. I look away from the brutal fight and from Donna’s nakedness. If I were a father, I couldn’t conceive of this from my daughter.

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4 thoughts on “‘Coming Close To Donna’ by Barry Hannah

  1. Uh, where’s the story? Do I need more coffee? I’m assuming there’s more than two paragraphs…?

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