UPDATE: 4 AUGUST — Yes! It IS going to be a trilogy!! See this article in USA Today.
So, I finished the book this evening when I got home from work.
While standing at the stove, stirring gravy, mind you.
Could not put it down. And I’ve never had much interest in werewolves. Vampires? You betcha. Werewolves were always mindless killing machines. Yawn. Not so, here. I had to know what happened. No spoilers, I promise. ‘Cause I think Dante reserved a circle in Hell for people who publish spoilers. Along with people who talk on their cell phones at the movies. If he didn’t, he should have. I’ll have a word with Satan about it. Anyway… Is it horror? Completely. Lots of blood and guts here. If you could have watched my face while I was reading you would have seen eyebrows raised, smirks, mouth opened in a gasp of surprise. And laughing.
The prose was amazing. IS amazing. Already it is making me take a far more critical eye to my own feeble efforts, although I’m still not sure I’m going to pepper my prose with words like ‘analeptic.’ Then again, why not? Why not make people scurry for the dictionary? Instead of writing for the lowest common denominator, what’s wrong with aiming a little higher? (Glen Duncan would have found a better way to phrase that, it was way too cliche, but I’m two glasses of wine deep here now, so not the best time to strain my brain.) I want to go back through the book and underline and writes notes in the margins and mark passages that I loved and I NEVER DO THAT. In my entire life, I have never marked up a book. Books are sacred. I’ll wait for it to come out in paperback and buy a paperback copy, then I won’t feel so guilty. I think my head would explode if I defaced the lovely hardcover. :::sigh:::
So what did I love? Oh god, the characters. Jake. I’ve never been that far into someone’s head, I’m not sure I’ve been that far into my own head. Give me a Jake in my own life. Do men really have feelings and emotions like that? Is it possible? Maybe it is. As possible as someone being a werewolf. Hey, it could happen, right? And Harley. Everyone should have one friend like Harley. Ellis – Fruit loop, but brilliant. But Jake above all, despite his monthly murder, despite everything, self-aware to the ‘nth’ degree, dissects humanity with things like this:
Something’s happening to this business of talking about feelings. It’s becoming moribund. The analysand on the Manhattan couch opens his mouth to begin “I feel…” and knows that if he had any decency he’d close it again straight away. Humans are moving into a new phase, one based on the knowledge that talking about their feelings has never got them anywhere. The Demonstrative Age … I shan’t be around to see it. THAT, since I asked the question myself, is how I feel, surer than ever that my clock’s been right all along, that I’ve had enough, that it’s time to go, that I really can’t stand it anymore, the living and the killing and the wandering the world without love.
Phew. It never lets up. Duncan writes as if he’s been around for 200+ years (160 of them as a werewolf) and had the time to think all this through, puzzle it out, and just now got around to writing it down. There’s an honesty about everything that is uncommon. The reader is completely immersed in Jake’s psyche, and it’s elegant, cerebral, detached, and yet so intimate. I raged at the ending, it wasn’t fair. I wanted to cry, but didn’t. As Harley and Jake so often remind us, “You love life because that’s all there is. There’s no God, and that’s His only Commandment.”
He left the ending wide open for a sequel, but sequels don’t seem to be Duncan’s style. I’ll be re-reading this one.