Last Orders

Last Orders

Book - 1996 | First American edition.
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Last Orders is the story of four men once close to London butcher Jack Dodds, who meet to carry out his last wish: to have his ashes scattered into the sea. The men, whose lives revolve around work, family, the racetrack and their favourite pub, must make their way down to a seaside town to complete the task. Through conversation and memory they trace the paths they have followed by choice and by accident; through the Second World War and its aftermath, through the dramas of family life, and their relationships with each other. In their brilliantly realized, richly nuanced voices, Swift has created a narrative language that perfectly expresses not only the comforts of old habits and friendships, but also the complexity and courage of ordinary lives.
Publisher: New York : Knopf, 1996.
Edition: First American edition.
ISBN: 9780679308577
Branch Call Number: SWI
Characteristics: 294 pages ;,20 cm


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Nov 17, 2017

I found this book to be very hard to follow. The language is difficult to understand, because of extensive use of the vernacular. There are too many references only a few readers would pick up on, because they have traveled or lived in the area where the book is set. Also, each time the POV switches, it picks up in the middle of a train of thought. I had to read for a few paragraphs before I could even begin to understand how it related to the rest of the book. The POV changes so often, that as a reader, I felt annoyed that I would have to do so much guess work to figure out the meaning of the story. Too much work for so little payoff.

May 06, 2010

?Last Orders' means more things than the title for this book. Three friends Ray, Lenny and Vic and a ?son' Vince accompany the ashes of Jack whose dying request is that they scatter his ashes at sea at Margate. More ?last orders.' Missing on this day-long excursion is Amy, his wife. The action takes place in the here and now and in the memories of these characters. The day they drive to Margate, with several diversions on the way, is a trip with lots of memory for these men who participated in WWII or saw their lives changed by it.

The 1997 Booker prize winner is a story with little action, great vernacular dialogue, compelling characters and a lot of love for Amy. Agree about the movie. Great cast.

Also read his more recent 'Making an Elephant: Writing from Within.'


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harrythedirtydog Nov 30, 2016

...Vic picks up the box and flips open the flaps at the top with his thumb.
He feels inside the box and slowly pulls out a plastic container. It looks like a large instant-coffee jar, it's got the same kind of screw-on cap. But it's not glass, it's a bronzy-coloured, faintly shiny plastic. There's another label on the cap.
'Here,' Vic says and hands the jar to Lenny.
Lenny takes it, uncertain, as if he's not ready to take it but he can't not take it, as if he ought to have washed his hands first. He don't seem prepared for the weight. He sits on his bar-stool, holding it, not knowing what to say, but I reckon he's thinking the same things I'm thinking. Whether it's all Jack in there or Jack mixed up with bits of others, the ones who were done before and the ones who were done after. So Lenny could be holding some of Jack and some of some other feller's wife, for example. And if it is Jack, whether it's really all of him or only what they could fit in the jar, him being a big bloke.

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