A suicide cult nearing its fate, a reporter tumbling towards self-destruction and a world spinning towards its end. When the dominoes start falling and mayhem reigns, who will be left to laugh at the result?
There’s only a few things that need to be understood about the plot in The Last Bad Job. A reporter is sent by a magazine to cover a suspected suicide cult. When things become dangerous, he escapes, hides out, and then everything is turned upside down.
Along the way we experience sex, drugs, more sex and then more drugs and a bizarre pseudo-religious epiphany in a supermarket. This is followed by chaos, punctuated by death, destruction and the unlikely elevation of a deranged cult leader to that of major prophet, his throning an accident of perfect timing.
The author has chosen not to enact an apocalypse, but all apocalypses, an aim as ambitious as it is ludicrous. So if a kaleidoscope of destruction is likely to leave you with motion sickness, this may not be the book for you.
For myself, I found the plot to be largely enjoyable, although I usually find it more difficult to enjoy absurdism in novels. Between the cult and chaos there is a rather long period of good old fashion self-destruction, which I was beginning to find a bit tedious. Luckily, I was saved by the end of the world.
Although we bump into many interesting characters along the way, our intrepid and nameless reporter is the main show. He is the synthesiser of all that we encounter, and perhaps the lesson.
I love how the author gives the reader an already broken character. For a few chapters he keeps his head barely above water, but under the slightest stress he returns to a kind of self-obliteration. I’ve heard it said that human wreckage is ripe for religious conversion, but somehow our nameless hero remains completely hedonistic. His immersion in the cult he investigates is only as deep as its sexual promiscuity. At a point of early danger, the feel of new white cotton briefs become a panacea for his fear. He hides from his predicament in a cesspool of alcohol, narcotics and meaningless sex. And his only religiously ecstatic moment exists in a bizarre delusion that equates consumerism with universal love.
So what happens to the worldly when the world is taken away? This is what I found quite interesting about our hero. When chaos takes the place of order, he simplifies drastically. Suddenly a companion becomes the only goal he has. We witness a demonstration of just how much he is willing to drink of the world only to turn his back on it – not towards religion, or spirituality, or some “meaning”, but rather towards simple existence.
Although there are so many quotable passages and a main character who seems to be transitioning through states as the story progresses, I’m not so sure I could prescribe a meaning behind the story.
The author uses the apocalypse much like Bulgakov’s Behemoth uses the primus; perhaps not because of any inherent meaning, but simply because it can burn things. And so we watch the author burn the world, not as a serious ritualistic statement, but more as a prank. It’s difficult not to giggle even as characters tell their horrific stories, the death and destruction nullified by the absurdity of the context.
Whether the author is making a statement about apocalypse, religion or about finding meaning in life, I may be hesitant to make a claim. However, I was happy to warm my hands with the bonfire he created and chuckle at the world’s misfortunes.
It’s a bit difficult for me to firmly establish who should and should not read this book. I think it suits mischievous readers, those not put off by an absurd plot and those who can peer into the face of apocalypse and laugh. Having said that, I’m not necessarily that type of reader myself, but I still managed to get enjoyment out of The Last Bad Job.
One thing I can share is that I don’t think I’ll ever look at an apocalypse the same way. Then again, maybe that was the point.
Price at the time of review: $3.99 US
Available: Amazon, Barnes and Noble
Author site: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/1094257.Colin_Dodds
GoodReads page: http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/16086782-the-last-bad-job