Reviews

God Is Dead, Irony Still Rollickingly Alive: The Last Werewolf by Glen Duncan

You’d think knowing what makes you happy would be easy to figure out. It’s not, much to my dismay. Life lacks the simplicity of IKEA instructions and instead, often embraces their ambiguity. It leaves you wondering how, exactly, did those stick figures end up so happy. They obviously aren’t putting together the same furniture I am. This is meant only vaguely metaphorically.

Recently, I’ve spent time trying to figure out what it is, precisely, that makes me happy (can you tell I’ve just read The Happiness Project?). The conclusion I’ve reached: I simply don’t know yet, but I have a few ideas. First and foremost, reading is a pastime that brings me joy and one I hope to continue long into the future. However, I’ve begun to wonder if there’s a point where our literary choices start to reflect who we are. Because that might be cause for concern. To quote a favorite novel, “what I’ve come to find humor in would make your honest man swoon”.

One need not be an analysand to wonder why I find dark and deranged (fictional) behavior to be so delightful. I’ve certainly questioned the appeal. Realistically, my literary proclivities are seemingly at odds with my aesthetic tendencies. Today, when I go to work on what is my Friday, I will wear a striped Anthropologie dress, an emerald green cashmere cardigan (Pantone’s color of the year, dontcha know), and my Vera Wang ballet flats. My jewelry will be from Towne & Reese and my bag will be the practical, yet fashionable Filson Tote. My business cards are printed on eco-friendly, recycled paper and it’s at this point that I start to wonder if I have, in fact, become the female Patrick Bateman. I haven’t, but my lovely handbag will be carrying a copy of The Wasp Factory for my lunchtime reading pleasure (simply because I found the news to be so incredibly sad this morning). While my style isn’t particularly important, there is something queerly contrary about pretty dresses and extensive human carnage.

Then I realize I am nearly 30 years old and I’m having an existential crisis.

According to werewolf Jacob Marlowe, 30 is too young for this to occur. Jake, now the last of his kind, is suffering from his own existential ennui and an increasing desire to end it all. At nearly 200 years old, he is now living in London, being hunted by various parties (some seeking to eradicate his kind and other seeking to preserve it).

The Last Werewolf

In regards to the above, you can understand that when I recently came across this review of Glen Duncan’s masterful novel that proclaims “The Last Werewolf is like an updated version of Dracula, only for werewolves, and as rewritten by Bret Easton Ellis”, my first thought was…

Sold.

The Last Werewolf is literary fiction for werewolf fans, if such people exist. My existence would suggest that yes, they do. While many may debate this designation (after all it does not tell the tale of a dysfunctional middle class family struggling to come to terms with whatever their dysfunction is), I’ll stand by my categorization. It does, on occasion, devolve into campy, pulp fiction, but that only added to my enjoyment.

Saying it could have been written by Bret Easton Ellis rightfully implies that there is violence and fornication…and then more violence and fornication with a bit of back story thrown in. Despite it being graphic, it does not seem gratuitous in context, as this is very much a novel about monsters and base instincts. Jake, the weary, witty, casually observant, yet monstrous antihero, is a character worth remembering, though my favorite aspect about the novel is the author’s used of subdued, satirical humor. It’s good fun and an interesting take on a genre that typically gets little respect. 4/5.

Of note: this is very much a novel for readers, as literary references abound from Conrad to Nabokov. In light of my enjoyment, I’ll continue to embrace my darkly humorous view of the world if it continues to lead me to novels like The Last Werewolf. For now, you can find me standing at the intersection of the comedic and the macabre – with authors like Iain Banks and Glen Duncan.

It makes me happy.

Whiskey Irish Smash

As you might imagine, the main character consumes primarily human flesh. However, he does have a love of whiskey – shared by Iain Banks. I am recommending an Irish Whiskey Smash and I will raise a glass in honor of one of my favorite authors.

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  • http://picturemereading.wordpress.com picturemereading

    That is a good question to pose how much our tendencies to like certain characters in books reflect our actual real life choices and tendencies..I do like the bad boys in fiction but I really don’t like guys or people like that in real life so I don’t know why I am so drawn to them in books..LOL

    • http://www.fourthstreetreview.com Rory

      I could say the same

      I certainly hope that literary preferences don’t reflect what type of person I am – that would be disturbing. And I generally don’t have the type of anger that most of the characters I like have (or the criminal or drug history, etc.).

      Oddly enough, if there is any type of romantic relationship in fiction, I don’t like bad boys (unless Rochester counts as one). I need equality and respect (even in a bookish sense), it’s probably why books like Twilight and Beautiful Disaster drive me crazy.

      • http://picturemereading.wordpress.com picturemereading

        I hated Beautiful Disaster, I thought it was awful. I likewise like a strong female heroine who demands respect..I consider Mr. R a bit of a bad boy in that he lies to Jane repeatedly LOL

        • http://www.fourthstreetreview.com Rory

          I should clarify that I do enjoy brooding, but boys behaving badly (i.e. threesomes, controlling behavior, etc) do not work for me. Then to have the female character want to marry him…

          I simply don’t get it!

  • http://froodianpseudoanalysis.wordpress.com DrFrood

    You can’t be the female Patrick Bateman; I am.

    • http://www.fourthstreetreview.com Rory

      Why am I not surprised?

      It’s worth noting that I’m quite handy with a nail gun and an axe, but I draw the line at chainsaws – too ostentatious – should you need any tutorials. And remember it’s best not to wear cashmere during untidy activities, removing stains from that fabric is murder.

      • http://froodianpseudoanalysis.wordpress.com DrFrood

        You can be Paul Allen

        • http://www.fourthstreetreview.com Rory

          My business card is envy inducing, but I teach by example, not by becoming the example.

  • http://gravatar.com/booksaremyfavouriteandbest booksaremyfavouriteandbest

    Hmmm… I’m always seeking books about complex family relationships… What does it all mean?!

    • http://www.fourthstreetreview.com Rory

      Perhaps a standard reaction to a typical suburban university-marriage-kids upbringing? 😉

      I’m left wondering why I find death so funny (it only makes me feel moderately better that the author was intending to be funny).

  • http://booksaremyfavouriteandbest.wordpress.com booksaremyfavouriteandbest

    Yes, you’re probably right although my husband’s family has drama with a capital D – I’m both fascinated and horrified by it.

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