The Last Werewolf


So…

I treated myself to another trip to Powells, because I had ordered a copy of “The Last Werewolf” by Glen Duncan and it was in and I had to go pick it up (they will mail books to you if you’re not in the area, but I pretended  decided I needed to go and save myself the shipping costs, and…well, anyway…).

I had heard about this book a few months ago, don’t recall how or why now, but saw this video which features the author reading a short excerpt. Chalk it up to a combination of his lovely accent, his voice, his persona, and the stunning writing, but as soon as I heard it was released (July 12, 2011) I put in an order for it. I don’t normally cough up the moolah for hardcovers these days, but I couldn’t wait for it to come out in paper. Essentially it’s the story of the last werewolf (surprise!) who has reached the point in his 201 years where he is contemplating suicide. Thing is, there are people who want to keep that from happening. Why? I don’t know. And most evil yet, I skipped ahead and am now laughing about people being eaten by the werewolf. Seriously, it’s funny the way he tells it. But listen to him tell you, and read a bit:

This is one of those books where, as MaryJ says, “With writing like this, does it even matter what the book is about?”

There’s a style of writing that seems to have become the de facto standard these days, although I’ve never heard it discussed. It consists of endless similes to describe something. Something is always like something else. Duncan, at least two pages into the book, seems to be masterfully avoiding doing any of that. For that, I will always love him. Someone please call him and tell him? Thanks.

I must give you a snippet more from the first page (items in bold are italicized in the book, but WordPress italicizes the entire quote, ergo, I bolded instead):

I sipped, I swallowed, glimpsed the peat bog plashing white legs of the kilted clan Macallan as the whisky kindled in my chest. It’s official. You’re the last. I’m sorry. I’d known what he was going to tell me. Now that he had, what? Vague ontological vertigo. Kubrick’s astronaut with the severed umbilicus spinning away all alone into infinity…At a certain point one’s imagination refused. The phrase was: It doesn’t bear thinking about. Manifestly it didn’t.

“Marlowe?”

“This room’s dead to you,” I said. “But there are bibliophiles the world over it would reduce to tears of joy.” No exaggeration. Harley’s collection’s worth a million-six, books he doesn’t go to anymore because he’s entered the phase of having given up reading. If he lives another ten years he’ll enter the next phase — of having gone back to it. Giving up reading seems the height of maturity at first. Like all such heights a false summit. It’s a human thing. I’ve seen it countless times. Two hundred years, you see everything countless times.

Even the book itself is lovely. The cover is matte black, lightly textured paper, the typeface is done in a pale yellow, but the moons on the front, down the spine and on the back are done in a metallic coppery-gold, almost a holographic effect. The edges of the pages are colored red – blood red. Nice touch. It’s a short book by the standards of today’s fantasy, coming in at just 293 pages.

As others have predicted before me, I believe this book will be to werewolf stories what Dracula is to vampire stories. Duncan also wrote a blog post for Powells.com which you can read here detailing his obsession with the movie “An American Werewolf in London,” as well as a discovery of a kind of magic.

I realize it makes more sense to tout a book once you’ve actually finished reading it, but I’m so excited about this one, I had to share now. If my opinion changes when I finish it, I’ll let you know, but I don’t think it will. Now, if only I had some nice whisky to drink while I read it…

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9 thoughts on “The Last Werewolf

  1. Digital Dame says:

    It’s off to a really good start. I really like Duncan’s style, it’s quite distinct.

    I remember all the old Lon Chaney, Jr. movies. They were pretty cheesy by today’s standards, but I loved watching them all the same. Incredibly, I think I only saw “American Werewolf in London” once. I should get a copy of it.

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  2. maryjblog says:

    OO, that is a beautiful-looking book. I, too, got out of the sun for a few minutes yesterday to give some of my business to The Golden Notebook in Woodstock – I picked up a couple of books I probably could have gotten from the library, but I like to give the independents some business, along with a cute little watch with panda bears on the face and the wristband..

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  3. Digital Dame says:

    Haven’t seen any sun here this weekend (wait, there was a little yesterday). I’m REALLY glad I got this book now instead of waiting as Andrew Shaffer mentioned to me on Twitter today that he heard only the first printing of this book will have the red edges on the pages. As I told him I’m only sorry it’s not also autographed by the author. Oh well, can’t have everything I suppose 🙂

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    • maryjblog says:

      hang onto your copy, and maybe he’ll do a reading or a book-signing out your way eventually. I just found out that Tim O’Brien is speaking at my place of employment this fall, and I’m so excited!

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  4. Digital Dame says:

    I’m still only a few chapters in, but I’m reading it slowly on purpose. I’m sort of dissecting his prose as I go, I really really love it. This is one I can see re-reading. I was afraid he was going to veer too far into the whole “immortal angst” thing, but just when I think he might, he makes some flippant comment that has me laughing. Totally worth it.

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