21 thoughts on “Last Days – Brian Evenson


    I & II

    “‘Mr Kline,’ Lisp said, ‘surely by now you realize that you can’t trust anyone. But why not take a chance?’”

    I hope there will be no spoilers in this review. I have taken this book away as holiday reading. So, not sure how regularly I shall be making entries. Currently on a train between London and Leeds as I write this. And the first two sections have captivated me, nevertheless. The conversation, so far, has the ring of the Pinter ‘Birthday Party’ one, where men come to confound another one in a seaside resort, a resort not unlike the one where I normally live. A consuming, disturbing, quirky dialogue with implication of threat, here the actual assets of absence, the absence of as many grimly borne amputations as possible?… Kline even cauterised his stump on a hotplate – thus presumably a sought after individual for the eponymous brotherhood?

  2. III

    “Miss Less Is More.”

    You know, I have already come to the conclusion that this novel – if novel it be – is one that I should have known about before now and one that is classically shocking in a dead-eyed, deadpan way, a potential Schism concerned with the application of schisms in a retrocasually hierarchical brotherhood, bodily schisms aspiring to zero bodily dwindling almost by Zeno’s Paradox, the most arcane tontine for a Zeroist Group, one that — this time, after the 1967 one — actually transcends, I feel, Dada itself, becoming post-Dada of creeds and self-cauterisations. My contention, so far, is that the plot of Last Days is a conspiracy of murder and intrigue within such a Zeroist framework. As an aside it is spiritually, if not in precise comparison, attuned to the dead-eyed plot of Pharricide that I very recently reviewed here, including the bit about a too easy dislodging of an eye.

  3. 449C6246-BBD5-4498-927E-06FCEEAF492EIV & V

    “…everything is a reconstruction of something else. Reality is a desperate and evasive creature.”

    Invasive, too. This novel is genuinely as invasive as some of its cleavers. Full of stuff that makes you wince. Cleave means both to cleave and uncleave, both to divide and to heal. Look it up, and see. Secret morphed to sacred. A cult become a cut. A Ramsey become a Ramse. And striptease by a woman that you won’t believe, unless you’ve read my story ‘Queuing Behind Crazy People’, and then you still won’t believe it. And a murder mystery, to boot. A powerful book, both serious and absurd. Extremely disarming — in more ways than one.
    D3F2F964-729B-4D55-8145-A0B9124EF258I told you earlier that this book is my holiday reading. My wife happened to take this photo this morning, as she was wickedly amused by my glum expression. Just got caught out by sudden heavy rain and having donned an ‘emergency poncho’ that makes me seem to be armless. This is a genuine coincidence that I have noticed after her having just sent me this photo and its companion. You can even see this book in my pocket! (These photos NOT to be replicated elsewhere!! Copyrighted only to this page!)

  4. VII, VIII & IX

    “He did not understand what it was he had gotten himself into, nor for that matter how he had gotten himself into it. But the more important question was, now that he was in, how to get out.”

    Me, too.
    Whether I be investigating a book, or a book investigating me, if not about murder or robbery, certainly about my smuggling meanings from it to you. A merchant of false or true meanings. And what comparative value or weight is truth and flesh. Each review I do another piece of me gone. Cleave or re-cleave the ultimate cronge. Tug it free. Survivor tontine or survivor guilt. The reward of Pinter or Beckett or Borchert. Goose or gander. I decline such knowledge, I guess.


    Part One

    “Some good Samaritan catches a glimpse of you sprawled on the shoulder and calls 911.”

    I am a 9 not a 1 and Kline is eLink, with a IV in his vein, and now there’s Mlinko and an ‘incline’ of the drive out of the hospital. Morand, more and what? I am finding it hard to type this on the train home with all the shaking. Confused who is tending to whom, and whose blood is whose? All I know I’m loving the knowledge and its weight of truth, disguised as gaps, “losing the rest of his arm seemed to have changed something inside his head, to have transformed him somehow.” Altered the gestalt? The night nurse, notwithstanding. And, oh yes, the hospital has corridors of utility items, just like the hotel where I have just been had some endless corridors of mislabelled firedoors.

    “Any time you find two one-legged men at the same dance it’s no coincidence.”

  6. 5C61896B-8C05-4587-BDF5-B68CE6309412Part Two

    “That night he had dreams of conflagration, scattered bits and fragments of burning that seemed, he reflected later, to be assembled from many moments of smoke or fire, benign or otherwise,…”

    Earlier today, before reading this section of the Evenson, I happened to quote a resonating passage from Eleanor Farjeon at the e-link here: https://dflewisreviews.wordpress.com/2019/09/03/before-it-fell-in/

    An appropriate painting, too, to the left that I photographed a few days ago while still on holiday.

    We now have a section of relics of Kline’s bones brought to him by men called Paul. And, for this section about several men called Paul tending to Kline, the Morand whom I referenced above yesterday happened to be called PAUL Morand.

    And with these passages’ mention of concert piano music, the e-link below is to a comment about a Lee Rourke book, a coincidence relating to the live music review I did higher up on that page: a concert of left-handed piano music played by a pianist who genuinely had one arm rather than two: https://dflewisreviews.wordpress.com/2018/09/23/scriabin-bach-rachmaninov-frank-bridge-with-the-left-hand/#comment-13710

  7. II & III

    Some quid pro quo considerations about the tongues of the would-be identical Pauls vis à vis holy relics…. Later, I got generally confused, with Kline’s assisted escape, driving a car and interactions with previous characters. Plenty of winces, though, regarding referred pain regarding pencils, eyes and stumps. I keep my powder dry.

  8. IV

    The various Pauls, one a chief Paul, discuss with Kline his purpose via various Christian and Gnostic motifs. The “Less is More” holy shriving taken to extrapolated ends. Hair shirt as stumps as well as spikes.
    Compare, incredibly, my serendipitously recent review HERE of Cardin’s crucial THE NEW PAULINE CORPUS! This makes the Everson Last Days crucial, too, by dint of mutual synergy,

  9. Part Three

    “But messiahs’ lives are always messy.”

    Is this the brutally attritional endgame of mutilates being massacred one by one? Is Kline a messiah? Am I, in fact, a bodiless big-head hovering upon the brink of some godly gestalt? And how many Pauls are needed to form a cardinal corpus? Is this cloven novel as disarmingly great as it seems? How many logic-chopping questions like this am I allowed?

    “How do you know the moment you cease to be human?”


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