Scott Sommer Richard Peabody, Jr. - Essay

Richard Peabody, Jr.

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

It's a truism of contemporary life that a man's career often comes before family and friends. Scott Sommer's [Last Resort] explores this predicament and its effects on an aspiring rock 'n' roll singer-songwriter named Tramp Bottoms….

Despite the tragic elements, and the fatalistic commentary on the nuclear family in America today, Sommer can't help but paint an optimistic picture. Tramp's prideful conflict with Leah—his career in music is promising only as compared to her relative success landing a book contract—seems ludicrous. Leah's love for Tramp appears equally unjustified but we come to appreciate his irresistible incompetence.

Well drawn adults buffer the star-struck children. The novel's poignancy is provided by Tramp's crippled sister (who, like all seondary women in Sommer's fiction, is loyal, supportive, and wise), and by his father's desperate pursuit of childhood with radio-controlled ships and planes. The dialogue is fast-paced. Sommer expects the reader to be familiar with the names of rock groups and songs. If you're not, you may miss some of the humor.

Success might have come too easily for Sommer. His writing has a wonderful vitality but little discipline. Naming the main characters Tramp Bottoms, Leah Summit, and Owen Chance is too cute. And dividing the book into three-parts—Breakups, Breakdowns, and Breakthroughs—is a failure of imagination. The song lyrics that wend their way throughout the book are weaker still. And yet, Owen Chance—Tramp's hip bisexual manager—is unforgettable…. If the 31-year-old Sommer hasn't peaked too soon he may yet write something worthy of his talent.

Richard Peabody, Jr., "Fiction: 'Last Resort'," in Best Sellers (copyright © 1982 Helen Dwight Reid Educational Foundation), Vol. 42, No. 4, July, 1982, p. 133.