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Thread: The Last Werewolf by Glen Duncan
April 9th, 2011, 07:01 PM #1
The Last Werewolf by Glen Duncan
The Last Werewolf by Glen Duncan has recently caught my eye. I'm wondering if anybody has read it and would care to share an opinion? Reviews look scarce, but it's got some nice cover blurbs from people Nick Cave and Scott Smith.
Here's the Australian publisher's description and a review from the Independent in the UK:
A veil of melancholy has fallen over Jacob Marlowe. He's the last of his kind. Hunted by his enemies and haunted by his past, he is worn out by centuries of decadence and debauchery, and by the demands of his lunatic appetites. He decides to submit to the authorities at the next full moon.
However, as Jacob counts down to suicide, a violent murder and an extraordinary meeting plunge him straight back into the desperate pursuit of life.
Gory and sexy, The Last Werewolf is a thrilling take on our relationship with the wild side, what it means to be alone and the transformative possibilities of love.
Glen Duncan is a highly regarded literary novelist. In this groundbreaking excursion into horror territory he gives us a book that is intelligently frightening and frighteningly intelligent. Erudite, playful, disturbing and ironic, The Last Werewolf is to werewolf literature as Moby Dick is to Anglers' Weekly.If the Devil always gets the best lines, someone forgot to tell Glen Duncan. Though it was a fun exercise, the novelist was so flippant in 2002's I, Lucifer that it seemed too tame for a diary of the Apostate Supreme. In The Last Werewolf, however, the writer's subject is so down and dirty that his irreverent voice is entirely appropriate.
Jacob Marlowe is the bicentenarian hellion of the title, who's grown tired of transforming into a monster every month. ("One's own death sentence elicits a mad little hallelujah, and mine's egregiously overdue.") If the name of the monster is an allusion to Christopher Marlowe and his most famous play, Doctor Faustus, Duncan is playful with the source: the nihilistic Jacob is, indeed, cursed, but rather than demons tearing him limb from limb, it's he who routinely disembowels innocents.
This playfulness runs throughout the novel, from recession-related wisecracks ("Two nights ago I'd eaten a 43-year-old hedge fund specialist. I've been in a phase of taking the ones no one wants") to the teasing of genre conventions: "You're the last of a great species," Marlowe is told as he is advised not just to curl up and die. "You owe the narrative something better."
The man speaking here is Grainer, the leader of a group dedicated to killing off Marlowe's kind, and whose pursuit of him drives the drama. The threat of extinction is present from the off, but the novel is split in two: one part wonderfully existential; the other, particularly following a revelation that inverts Marlowe's suicidal tendencies, rather more action-packed. It is entirely to the reader's taste which is the better, but I was taken with the philosophical side, loaded with beautifully constructed lunatic ravings such as this reflection on the redundancy of the notion of the beast: "I keep telling myself I'm just an outmoded idea. But you know, you find yourself ripping a child open and swallowing its heart, it's tough not to be overwhelmed by ... the concrete reality of yourself."
Though its apocalyptic tone is dampened by such ruminations, what sets The Last Werewolf apart from the limits of I, Lucifer is its filthy return, again and again, to the coarse reality of being part dog. Like Marlowe's victims, we aren't spared the gruesome obscenity of a lupine attack; nor, like his lovers, the heat of his depravities.
It is a horror that never shies from the human side of lycanthropy; it is a disquisition on the nature of werewolf stories; it is a sublime study in literary elegance. It is bloody (and) brilliant.