2011 Catapult Notable List – #7
#7: The Last Werewolf by Glen Duncan
Somehow, I almost overlooked Glen Duncan’s werewolf novel for inclusion on this year’s Catapult list, but after a little heartfelt soul searching… I remembered how phenomenally awesome it was from the first sentence to the last. Compiling this list can be tricky sometimes – it’s hard to go back to the books you read in January, February, March and remember what it was about them that you loved so much back then. Sure, it helps to write things down in, say, a blog, but still. Do the books that you raved about in January stand up in the following December? In the case of The Last Werewolf, hell yeah.
By the way, Duncan is another author that I have met in person & I was struck by how werewolf-like he appeared. (see left) This doesn’t have any bearing on this post, but I thought it was an interesting factoid. Please continue.
I’ve always thought that the genre of “werewolf fiction” was deserving of more attention. Okay, maybe I’ve never thought about it at all. Duncan’s edgy, erudite prose provides a surprising literary spark to this pigeon-holed genre that we never consider. Jake Marlowe has walked the earth for the last 200 years, turning into a wolf with an amped-up libido upon every full moon. When we first meet him, he has just learned that the agents from the World Organization for the Control of Occult Phenomena (WOCOP) have – quite literally – detached the head of the only other of his kind left on the planet.
“It’s official,” Harley said. “They killed the Berliner two nights ago. You’re the last.” Then after a pause: “I’m sorry.”
Jake is tired, generally. Tired of being alone, tired of fighting with vampires, tired of running from the goons who have hunted down all the other werewolves on earth. He’s done everything we think we would do if given that much time. He’s traveled everywhere, he’s read all the books he wants, slept with thousands of prostitutes – One of the things I’ve been hanging on for is the death of my libido. I’ve lost interest in everything else, so why not? But it just keeps, as it were, coming. He’s lived a life more full than any of us could reasonably imagine. Except, two centuries is a long time to keep on keepin’ on just because that’s what you do. Especially, to be honest, without any meaningful, lasting relationships.
I still have feelings but I’m sick of having them. Which is another feeling I’m sick of having. I just…I just don’t want any more life.
So, he’s come up with a solid plan to go out in a hail of silver bullets, taking his arch-nemesis from WOCOP with him, when events occur that turn his life philosophy, such as it is, on its lupine ear. I cannot stress enough how pleasantly surprised I was by Duncan’s prose stylings. I know that sounds kind of shitty, but what sort of expectations could I have had, going into this? It really is an extraordinarily well-written novel – Jake’s narration is so skillfully relayed that you never stop to question the validity of his crazy-sounding tale. Of course he’s 200 years old! Of course he’s a werewolf who kills and eats people! The infinite twists and turns within keep you guessing throughout – and thoroughly rooting for the wolf – and I can pretty much guarantee that you will not see the ending coming. All-in-all, rather than being just a trashy, sex-crazed horror novel, Werewolf is a brilliant tale of love, survival, prejudice, and the finer points of living a life well lived. Bravo.