The Last Resort: A Novel

Lurie, Alison

Verlag: Henry Holt and Co., 1998
ISBN 10: 0805058664 / ISBN 13: 9780805058666
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Inhaltsangabe: Like a loyal Victorian wife, Jenny has devoted her life to her much older husband, the famous writer and naturalist Wilkie Walker, bringing up their children and researching and editing his bestselling books. But this year, as winter approaches, Wilkie is increasingly depressed and withdrawn. At her wit's , Jenny persuades him to visit Key West, the Last Resort.

But Key West is not called the Last Resort for nothing. Lives can turn upside down here, and even short-term visitors can have experiences they never imagined. Within weeks of their arrival, Jenny not only has a part-time job but is becoming involved with assorted local characters, including Gerry, an ex-beatnik poet, and Lee, the dramatically attractive manager of a women-only guest house. Wilkie, meanwhile, is planning his own "accidental" death by drowning--a task that turns out to be more difficult than he thought--and trying to avoid the attentions of a breathless young female fan. The Last Resort is the perfect evocation of Key West and another dazzling demonstration of Alison Lurie's talent for high comedy and social comment.

Review: The Last Resort finds Alison Lurie in top, trenchant form following a 10-year hiatus from fiction. "Without sex and death," the author wrote in Don't Tell the Grown-Ups, "humans may become as angels." Suffice it to say that the term angelic suits none of her newest cast, all of whom come up against life's realities during one Key West winter. Lurie's singular ensemble is spearheaded by the much younger wife of famed naturalist and writer Wilkie Walker, who is convinced that the world is "going to hell in a nonbiodegradable plastic handbasket." When the loving, supportive Jenny suggests they repair from New England to Florida, she hopes that he'll at last be able to finish his book and, more importantly, that his erratic behavior will come to an end. Of course, she has no goal for herself, since she's spent all her adult life as custodian to the aging author and can envision no other existence. Fortunately, a chance encounter with the owner of the successful women's guesthouse will eventually suggest a far more satisfying one.

For the irascible Wilkie, the trip turns out to be a blessing in disguise. Convinced that he's no longer in ecological vogue and certain that he's suffering from cancer, he's finally free to plan a tragic swimming accident. Alas, each of his attempts is foiled: once he can't get rid of a hanger-on, and another time someone else has the audacity to kill himself, thereby stealing his limelight. What's worse, the man was suffering from AIDS, and Wilkie certainly doesn't want that sort of information to sully his own obit. The Last Resort is a hilarious--and merciless--look at social and sexual desire and literary reputation. Jenny is well aware, for example, "that to refuse to look at a writer's work is always a deadly insult," whether the writer is her husband or an ex-beatnik poet. As one character reasonably remarks, "You don't have to be intellectually brilliant to be a famous American poet. It's a handicap, sometimes. Innocent egotism, good looks, romantic sensibility, a thrilling speaking voice, and a nice little lyric gift, that's what makes it with the reviewers and the public."

Lurie is always keen to prick any human vanity or fashionable ism--and does so exquisitely. In addition to its infinitely satisfying ironies and indelible characters, The Last Resort, though far from Arcadia, offers up a serious call for us to seize the "bright full present" while we can.

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Bibliografische Details

Titel: The Last Resort: A Novel
Verlag: Henry Holt and Co.
Erscheinungsdatum: 1998
Einband: Hardcover
Zustand: New
Auflage: First Edition.

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