Monday, July 21, 2008

The Long Last Call

The Long Last Call is the first thing I’ve read in a long time from John Skipp, who, along with his then-collaborator, was one of the leaders of the “Splatterpunk” movement in the 80s. The splatterpunks were writers who pushed the boundaries of horror to produce fiction that was much more extreme in its depiction of sex and violence than most of the work of the time, and generally had more urban settings than the conventional horror of the time. The movement itself generally collapsed, although many of those involved have gone on to good careers, including Joe Lansdale, Ray Garton and David Schow.

The Long Last Call
is a story set in a fairly sleazy strip club right at closing time. Among the patrons is a man (or is he?) who is there to release the evil inside the performers, and wage a war against good.

This is not the deepest of stories. The struggle of Good vs. Evil is an old motif, and not much new is covered here. But it is extremely well written. Skipp has an excellent narrative flow, and I read the whole thing in one sitting (it isn’t that long). He also does a great job of capturing the desperation of both performers and patrons. (A personal note: Although I haven’t been in one in a few years I have visited a few strip joints, and I find them to be incredibly depressing places. On at least half of my visits, a girl danced to “Comfortably Numb” by Pink Floyd, a song about a performer who has to get stoned in order to go on stage. I found this unnerving.) Although as I said, I thought it wasn’t that original in its slight plot, I did enjoy it, and I would recommend it. I’m looking forward to Mr. Skipp trying his hand again at longer work.

My edition of the book was from Cemetery Dance, and is as usual, a handsome volume, although those who buy the Leisure paperback instead get a bonus novella, Conscience. The book includes an introduction by Brian Keene.

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