Verdict: LAST SONG AND DANCE is a book for those readers who don't mind letting go of expectations, aren't looking for a coherent story with a stable beginning, middle and end, and who enjoy reveling in the bizarre and surreal.
Cy Sullivan is a writer from what seems to be a postapocalyptic small town called New Middletown, exiled for many years after his then-girlfriend Stephani Beanblossom drowned in a creek after a car accident- or did she? He’s come back with his possibly-sentient typewriter Clarabelle to write his masterpiece novella, featuring his alter ego Albert Slothprick, the demonic and violent Blue Nun – a quasi-Goddess with a troupe of maenad-like “wild girls” – a barnyard revolt sparked by angry revolutionary farm animals, and other bizarre characters and events which run into each other and circle around each other until it’s difficult to separate one layer of reality from another.
LAST SONG AND DANCE is a surrealist fantasy, and as such, it should be read in a spirit of nonattachment or possibly nonsobriety – in other words, don’t try to make a coherent story out of this, or find a clear plotline. It’s a wild, hallucinatory romp through the author’s imagination, which apparently contains an awful lot of cheap unsatisfying sex and mindless random violence. There are neat little literary references scattered throughout, but it’s rather difficult to plow through the sheer chaos of the story to find them. Woods enjoys playing with language, and his sentences are often works of Dadaist art all in and of themselves, as for example, “There is silence in the barnyard as the sacred cow has heroically emerged from her underground bunker to make a stand for decency and engage the feathered tyrant in a philosophical debate on the relative merits of humility, obedience, and respect for one’s betters, not before dumping a huge, steaming, bubbly chocolate pie to mark territory and state her aims. ‘Moo’.” The point of view, too, shifts apparently randomly between characters, adding to the confusion and surreality. After a while, though, the very incoherent insanity becomes almost dull, its crude sexuality and raw violence lose their shock value and become merely tawdry, and though the book is relatively short, it can feel like a marathon of disconnected and disturbing images, without point or direction to give them meaning.
LAST SONG AND DANCE is a book for those readers who don’t mind letting go of expectations, aren’t looking for a coherent story with a stable beginning, middle and end, and who enjoy reveling in the bizarre and surreal.
~Catherine Langrehr for IndieReader