Thomas S. Klise’s The Last Western (Book acquired, 3 Jan. 2018)

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So after maybe one tumbler of scotch too many, I finally broke down and just ordered a copy of Thomas S. Klise’s out-of-print cult novel The Last Western (1974) online. I’d been looking for it in used bookshops for awhile after reading it as a pirate ebook earlier this year. I’ll admit I’m a bit disappointed in the quality of this mass market paperback I paid fifteen U.S. dollars for, but it’s nice to have the novel to check against the ebook (like, if I ever get off my ass to really write about it). The Last Western is a prescient, zany, often sad political/religious thriller set in a kinda-sorta future—a dystopia just a shade off from our own current dystopia. The central figure, Willie, is a multiracial baseball phenom who eventually becomes the Pope. Despite its clean, lucid, straightforward prose style, Klise’s novel definitely has a heavy 70s vibe to it; fans of Vonnegut and Ishmael Reed would likely dig The Last Western. Its later cult fame seems to stem from its resonance with Infinite Jest, a novel that resembles it in several ways (although Wallace said he’d never heard of it). Anyway, I’ve said this before, but I think that some brave indie should reprint The Last Western so folks like me could buy nice new crisp well-bound copies.

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