What follows is Christian's increasingly desperate attempts to kill himself, be revived, and slowly piece together snapshots from his childhood to understand this rediscovered self-knowledge and find how it can help him rebuild his life and marriage. Alternating between calculated suicide attempts and heartbreaking memories of a happier time, Christian revels in the underbelly of New York City in a spectacular downward spiral. Nelms captures Christian's spectacular implosion in punchy, quotable prose, covering a Gotham from glossy Midtown offices to seedy Bronx dog fights. The Last Time I Died has the murky, teasing reality of Fight Club and the gleeful violence of American Psycho, but is entirely fresh, in a voice all its own. Praise for Last Time I Died "Funny, disturbing, and full of sharp elbows, The Last Time I Died is ultimately a story of redemption, and Nelms delivers a powerful, punishing, and, amazingly enough, hopeful novel." --Garth Stein, New York Times bestselling author of The Art Of Racing In The Rain "Joe Nelms's masterful debut is a heat-seeking missile headed straight for your gut, and, be warned, it does not miss its mark." --Robert Goolrick, #1 New York Times bestselling author of A Reliable Wife and Heading Out To Wonderful "Smartly written and suspenseful as hell, The Last Time I Died is a brilliant novel." --Richard Christy of The Howard Stern Show "From page one, this novel thrusts you into the fraught mind of a man whose life was ruined before it even began, a nobody trapped inside his own lethal obsessions, and the effect is so gripping, so tragic and chilling, that you wouldn't escape even if you could. With stark searing prose and keen insights, Joe Nelms will make you feel what it's like to dive headfirst into disintegration just to discover who you truly are and finally get some peace. The story will tattoo itself to your psyche. You'll be glad and grateful." --Jeff Backhaus, author of The Rental Sister
Publishers Weekly® Reviews
- Reviewed in: Publishers Weekly, page .
- Review Date: 2013-11-04
- Reviewer: Staff
Christian Franco, the creative and charismatic protagonist of Nelms’s debut novel, is like an indefatigable class clown, darkly funny and constantly stirring the pot. But underneath the arch exterior, he’s a mess: self-destructive at the law firm where he works and tormented in the aftermath of a painful divorce, he suffers also under the burden of a traumatic childhood that decades of therapy have done little to ameliorate. Every night brings a new round of hard drinking. The reader first encounters Christian after a suicide attempt (and not his first). He is a maximally unreliable first-person narrator, his situation exacerbated by his innate sense of mischief and his contrary nature. The story is told in short, punchy chapters, very much following the erratic path of Christian’s psyche. Often, the text consists of a parade of vivid images, coming at the reader in a vertical series like free verse: “Waiting in line for my coffee. Sitting on hold. Biking by the river. Waking up in a stranger’s bed.” Flashbacks make up a large portion of the story, filling in the puzzle pieces of Christian’s past by tantalizing increments. The ultimate reveals may veer into the melodramatic, but Christian is a relatable modern man and Helms’s crackling prose moves like lightning. (Jan.)