THE FINAL DAYS by Wayne Lanter
Twiss Hill Press
By Michael Hillmer on October 13, 2003
What a magnificent book. This is literature of the highest order. Not your standard formulaic mass-market disposable fiction. I have read it twice and it only gets better with each reading. It keeps opening up like a prism that is constantly evolving. When you are finished you have so much to savor. It is a movable feast of drama and ideas. It is literature with an epic vision of lives being lived on the edge in the new millenium in an America where we are trying to answer the eternal question "why do we exist?" and how are we to live our lives here, on this earth, when our culture is being bought and sold and its price is our soul? It is beautiful, hilarious, tragic, heartbreaking, uplifting, and ultimately redeeming.
The philosophy professor John Carter is one of the most fully developed characters in the annals of literature that I have had the joy to experience in a very long time. His appetite for life is boundless. Not since Eugene Henderson in Saul Bellow's "Henderson, the Rain King," or Sebastian Dangerfield in J.P. Donleavy's "The Ginger Man," or Geoffrey Firmin in Malcolm Lowry's "Under the Volcano," or Stephen Dedalus in James Joyce's "Ulysses" has a main character embodied life so fully in all its confusion, joy, pain, curiosity, tragedy, and wonder.
"The Final Days" could be subtitled "The Decline and Fall of the American Empire." In these harrowing times when we are being Bushwhacked daily, when our culture has been McDonaldized, Wayne Lanter has created a main character and a story that are seamless in their embodiment of the times we inhabit. He has created a novel that is a bridge between the twentieth and the twenty-first century, showing us how and what we have become, how we have gotten where we are, and then showing us the way out. It is "our" novel for the new millenium, steeped in the epic literary traditions of Homer, Shakespeare, and Tolstoy, lost in the existential void of Dostoyevsky, Kafka, and Camus, yet with its grasp firmly on the life pulse of America in the year 2003. This is Wayne Lanter's Long Days Journey Into the American Night, his Ulysses in Night Town, his Kafkaesque rendition of an America feeding inward on itself with no end in sight.
"The Final Days" is a wonderous book, a grand testament to the undiminished plentitude of the human spirit and the prodigious powers, both creative and destructive, of the human imagination. At the top of his art, Mr. Lanter, like Professor John Carter, is an anima. To inhabit this book is to experience all the joy, pain, wonder, awe and the immensity of a life. A life well lived. On its own terms. Mr. Lanter, you've got eyes.