Last Things Summary (David Searcy)

David Searcy

Last Things

(Critical Survey of Contemporary Fiction)

In the midst of a late autumn suffocating heat wave, scarecrows filled with decaying animal body parts begin to appear in trees in rural East Texas. A small child disappears, as do chickens. The sheriff catches a record-breaking catfish, whose image on photocopied leaflets begins to resemble Jesus. The people of the Last Days Covenant church take all of the above occurrences to be the last things, the signs of the coming apocalypse.

It is hard to know, however, what laconic Luther Hazlitt, the novel’s main character, thinks about the strange events, because he does not say very much. Luther is a caretaker on a ranch and lives in an old trailer, alone but for his red chow Yurang and a passel of puppies. He knows that something is not right, however, and he spends much of the novel building a variety of traps, trying to catch whatever it is that is out there moving in the tall grass just beyond his door.

“The simplest sort of horror story (and the most gratifying somehow) starts with the damage....” From these opening words to its inconclusive, yet violent end, Last Things is a strange chronicle of ever-accumulating damage, damage done to the countryside, to the livestock, and to the inhabitants of this small Texas town, by some unknown, whirlwind force. Both literary and ghastly, with compelling prose that turns itself inside out before doubling back on itself, Last Things is not for the faint of heart nor for the impatient reader.