Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Last Last Chance

Last Last Chance by Fiona Maazel
hardcover, 337 pages
Farrar, Straus and Giroux, March 2008
ISBN-13: 9780374183851

Synopsis from cover:
A lethal strain of virus vanishes from a lab in Washington, D.C., letting loose an epidemic - and all the world thinks Lucy Clark's dead father is to blame. The "superplague" may be the least of Lucy's problems, though. There's her mother, Isifrid, a peddler of high-end hatwear, a crackhead and pagan theologian. There's her twelve-year-old half sister, Hannah, who is obsessed with disease and Christian fundamentalism; and there's Lucy's lover, Stanley, who's hell-bent on finding a womb for his dead wife's frozen eggs. There's her grandmother, Agneth, who believes in reincarnation (and who turns out to be right).

And then there's Lucy herself, whose wise, warped approach to life makes her a guide to love among the ruins. Romping across the country from New York City to rural Pennsylvania and the Texas desert, Lucy tries to get the better of her drug addiction and keep her family intact - and she tells us, uproariously, all about it.
My Thoughts:
I don't know if it's because I have a head cold or what, but Last Last Chance did not live up to the great reviews for me. Basically, it's a rather slow-paced novel about self-absorbed junkies. The superplague, while there, is just one more background thing to be anxious about, and certainly not as important as the drugs, reincarnation, illness, or even Lucy's failure at romance. While Maazel's writing is full of wit and humor, combined with the actual storyline, it started to become annoying and really distracting. Last Last Chance, although it did have some insightful moments, really didn't do it for me. So-so


People I love know how to get on with their lives. In evidence: A girlfriend from elementary school was getting married. Day after tomorrow, Plaza Hotel. The invitation was piped in copper and rice, maybe because the bride was Indian. It promised a groom on horseback. This I'd like to see. I knew the groom, which made it tough to imagine horseback nothin'. A horse could make him cry. A horse could make me cry. How fortuitous. When the crying starts, blame horse. opening

The vistas were great. But the feeling was claustral. I'd been exiled, and though I could leave anytime, I felt I deserved this. And that's the thing about exile, you tend to feel extra trapped if you know the comeuppance is just. pg. 4

The rehab was fancy and a little dumb, and had supplied every bathroom with Listerine. The day after Kam left, a staffer found me drinking from the bottle, hiding in a shower stall and sniffing the replacement grout for fumes of advisable use. pg. 11

Your mother was on the floor, crushing pills and snorting them with a straw. pg. 14

What everyone knows: it's been 237 days since vials of the plague were stolen from my dad's lab and 180 days since he took his life. What everyone just found out: The bacteria he cultured are sprightly. They do not degrade in the open air and no antibiotic can kill them. They are, in a word, immortal. pg. 16

Dad had been in charge of hiring our nannies. The arrangement was this: he'd offer asylum, they'd offer themselves to science. It's true that human vaccination trials border on genocide. That as a result of the trials, hundreds of illegal immigrants died and none were missed. But Dad had an answer for everything. If pressed, he'd reason that human trials were the only was to devise vaccines, that many diseases simply do not reproduce in animal hosts. pg. 21

"Then it's me. Someone in this house is sick, I can feel it."
I nodded. I'd already seen her cough up black sludge that cleaved to the sink. She wheezed. Had chronic sore throat. Fever, sweats, nausea. But that was just because of the drug abuse. Not a real illness, just drugs. pg. 30

Over the years, many specialists have told me I need to feel the feelings. But when the experience of hurt begins to feel like a dry heave, I think you do better to suppress with all you got. pg. 42

He says someone in Minnesota just got sick with superplague. They are short on details but long on gist: the man is gonna die pronto. pg. 45

The meeting goes on. No one mentions superplague, but then no one would. We are entirely too self-centered to let such matters upstage miseries of our own devising. pg. 70


Book Dragon said...

I'm going to agree with you. I haven't heard all the hype but thanks for giving up the quotes.

Anonymous said...

Based on what you said and the quotes you provided, I don't think this is going to make it on to my list. Thanks.

Lori L said...

Thanks for the comments!
This may be enjoyable for someone who wants to read a book about junkies that includes humorous dialogue. I'm just not that person.