At first The Last American Novel glides you along like a summer read – a mysterious visitor, a forbidden flirtation, a quiet curious death on a small Maine island, a traditional fishing village and burgeoning summer retreat for writers, artists, and agents of the ruling class. The narrator, Ian Sippsac, is a 20-year-old genius and the embodiment of his generation – restless, funny, offensive, and tender – a recent college graduate working on the island mail boat while weighing a future in a damaged world he might not be able to navigate but is determined to expose.
Ian becomes infatuated with a beautiful enigmatic 35-year-old, one of three editors on retreat to decide the final book to be published by a famed and dying American publishing house. When the celebrity daughter of the publisher drowns on the grounds of her summer estate, Ian is drawn into a murder investigation that reaches into the world of contemporary art, national politics, and international commerce before careening back into the buried secrets of his island home, his family's past, and his own identity.
WHY READ THE LAST AMERICAN NOVEL?
"Because it's different. Or at least it's trying. Too much of today's fiction is like mime, these contortions over peeling an invisible banana, this struggling inside a box that isn't there.
"The smallness and sameness of too many novels is the smallness and sameness that afflicts our culture overall--the relentless modern headlock--and it's this same smallness and sameness, this outsourcing of human identity to 'global' convention, that is at the root of my narrator's perplexing (and, I hope, moving and funny) mental condition." - Ronn Howland
"Books shouldn't be printed television." ~ Jeanette Winterson