Monday 31 August 2020

Short Story Review: The Last Conversation by Paul Tremlay, narrated by Stevan Strait

The Last Conversation The Last Conversation by Paul Tremblay
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Totally compelling read, straighforwardly (no pun intended) narrated by Stevan Strait, who some will know as the lead in The Expanse series. I'm not usually a reader of horror and so have never read anything from this author before, but I was impressed by his ability to deliver a grand hook of a tale. Yes I've read books and seen movies which deal with a single person in a room. Waking up,not seeing, not knowing how you got there and not remembering much, if anything, is where he starts his second person narrative. The protagonist is unnamed, ungendered and is being cared for by Dr Kuhn, or Annie as we come to know her, who initially our protagonist only hears as she is not in the room . *****SPOILER ALERT **** we gradually become aware, alongwith our protagonist, thatshe appears, ominously to be seeding him with memories. The reader's imagination runs riot trying to ensigage why this woudl be, and maybe some readers will work it out, but although I had many thoughts about this whilst reading it I didn't, surprisingly, get the correct one. We know there has been a pandemic, and that the protagonist is in isolation till his immune system stabilises. I'm not going to say any more about how the plot line develops as this really would spoil it big time. Suffice to say that in many ways this story, whilst ostensibly focused on the protangonist, is about Annie, and leaves the reader pondering her predicament at the end of the novella. The writing builds up beautifully and it is an addictive read. Trembley writes some thought provoking moments eg "how could one lose something as expansive as an ocean in a dusty crner of one's mind? What if, instead, to forget is to open a door to a void; the memory is not retrievable because it is not there, was never there" what a horrid thought!

This is another one of the stories from Amazon's Forward Collection, the more I read of these the more I am impressed by the selection curator Blake Crouch has put together. Highly recommend.

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