Saturday, January 29, 2011

Guest blogger: Books: The Last Werewolf

Guest blogger Jessica is married to CRWM, but does not consider herself a "horror person". She owns an independent bookstore in Brooklyn, and sometimes her reading interests overlap with the interests of this blog. She is writing this herself, so please forgive the snarkiness with which she disguises her deep adoration for her clever and handsome husband.

Glen Duncan's The Last Werewolf was one of the hot galleys at Winter Institute, an annual gathering of independent booksellers and publishers that has started to become one of the places where a book can get "made." Among my fellow booksellers, it is commonly referred to "the sexy werewolf book." I met the author briefly at a reception -- he is the civilized and self-deprecating Brit you might expect, despite the hair.

This is terrible, but I have to say... I devoured this book (cringe). I read it on cold street corners and in subways and bars and kept trying to tell CRWM about the plot points. The novel is obscenely well-written and brilliantly sexy (and vice versa -- very few pages go by without mention of the narrating werewolf's sexual organs. Apparently sex is what sets them apart from the more coldblooded/pansyish immortals, the vampires). Reading Duncan felt a little like discovering Anne Rice for the first time -- only with more energy, more irony, and a dry British sense of humor that makes the absurdities of lycanthropy into a cosmic existential joke instead of a teen fantasy.

The detailed pleasures of the fantasy/horror genre are there in spades (the logistics of the transformation, the luxuries of immortality, the glimpses of werewolf culture and their conflicts with both vampires and a more sinister, corporate version of the BPRD). That's balanced, though, with an achingly believable love story and a self-loathing descent to extinction which turns into a fierce fight for life (not unrelated).

If this doesn't give werewolves an equal literary standing with vampires, I can only assume some sort of conspiracy is at work. Also, it made me crave cigarettes, good wine, and mellow whiskey, consumed in posh surroundings with an air of world-weary appreciation. When it comes out in July I highly recommend you snap it up -- and keep an eye out for the undead side-taking that is sure to follow.

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