David James Keaton has delivered a literal smorgasbord of a novel here. Loaded with grease and fat and enough madness to choke a goat. If pop cultural references were dimes, The Last Projector would be A LOT of money. The music references alone would have garnered about eighty dollars. But enough about that…
Larry is a director of pornography and he hates it. He used to be an EMT named Jack, and through a series of unfortunate events—events that haunt him almost daily—he is now Larry, a third-rate director of smut. He hates his actors and their seemingly contagious tattoos. He hates a lot about his life…and himself, honestly. While Larry films the fuck films, he secretly films his “real” movie with a woman and her daughter, only they have no clue they’re being filmed.
We also follow a young couple, maybe lovers, definitely almost terrorists—hey, they’re working on it! They unite in their quest to “scare” or kill a cop and maybe kidnap a police dog. At the very least they just want to fuck over as many law enforcement officers as they can. Their thread through the novel is richly braided with dialogue and so many cultural zingers it should be registered as a weapon.
This book is long, a little too long, in my opinion. I found portions hard to slog through but I stuck with it and was entertained overall. The characters are insane and well drawn, their antics all believable given the folks acting them out. From the opening incident of a man getting nose-punched for spitting mouthwash on a statue of the Virgin Mary to the ridiculous discussions of watching drive-in movies without sound from a neighboring house, this book seems to have it all.
Sense of humor as a bludgeoning object seems to work for Keaton. In nearly everything I’ve read from him, he wields that weapon proudly and with no apologies. He writes a mean story but sucker-punches you into not realizing how fucking dark it is until you’ve come out the other side. The one-liners and jokes keep you numb to the horror that creeps and scurries at your feet.
The Last Projector is available from Broken River Books.