The writing is almost too good. Duncan makes my head spin and unsettles me in a very unique way, his narrator being an erudite anti-hero whose tastes in culture and society are as high as his hungers for flesh and sex are base. I found myself reading over his sentences multiple times to savor their many layers, like a rich, rum-and-raspberry-infused chocolate cake. A cake you can't devour in one setting, but rather sample and chew on and wash down with sips of espresso.
There's a lot in here--philosophy, history, urban and social commentary, ruminations on love and friendship and existence and the ties that bind it all together. Oh yeah, and spicy werewolf sex and gory dismemberments and devourings. Jake Marlowe, the 200-year-old werewolf, shows us submerged aspects of our humanity by confessing to the desires and demands of his monstrosity. Much (most) of these primal drives are related to through sex, of the most unromantic kind. At times reading The Last Werewolf feels like watching porn narrated by George Plimpton. The sexual act, from desire to climax, is dismantled by the werewolf, held up to a bare light bulb, and then fastened dark-comically back together into something shaped like a reproductive organ doubling as a weapon. At times it's too much. But there's a reason for it. I won't say what it is. Just keep reading the book. Eventually you'll get it. All I'll say is it provides epic contrast, which yields a heart-breaking sympathy for a main character who, throughout most of the book, you're not entirely sure you want to live (other than the fact that those out to kill him seem even worse).
Glenn Duncan took a beating for his allegedly genre-elitist review of Colson Whitehead's zombie novel, Zone One, "the other" big-time-hit literary horror novel released in the last few years (unless you count Justin Cronin's, "The Passage" as literary, which I more or less do). I can see why. There's a reason he named his main character Marlowe, but he could have just as easily been named Milton (a major influence of Duncan's, supposedly) as grand Elizabethan thought on Heaven and Hell and all things between propels much of the narration. Some people seeking hot werwolf sex and delicious slaughter aren't looking for such things, and raise their hackles when a horror author shoves such things in their face. If you like literary writing, and don't mind it spilling into a dark, delicious tale, then read this (and Talulla Rising, the sequel, for that matter).