Last Seen


212 pages
ISBN 0-394-28168-3
DDC C813'.54





Reviewed by Sarah Robertson

Sarah Robertson is an associate editor of the Canadian Book Review


As this semi-autobiographical novel opens, Alec’s younger brother is
dying from cancer. Despite his condition—“[b]lind, lame, crippled
... soaked in drugs”—the worldly and once-vital Harold is determined
to “suck in life.” Alec is driven from his dying brother’s
presence by the knowledge that “nothing he says or thinks can touch
the silence, the hole, the black void of emptiness and fear.” After
Harold’s death, he assuages his grief and guilt with a daily regimen
of Scotch and obituary reading. One day, in a bar frequented by Elvis
impersonators, he runs into Harold. This is just the first of several
encounters that take the two brothers on a remarkable journey that
builds to a confrontation and then ends in reconciliation.

Radiating irreverence, grace, and dark humor, Last Seen is both a
deeply felt meditation on death and a luminous celebration of
brotherhood. There’s not a false note in this exquisitely uncluttered


Cohen, Matt., “Last Seen,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed June 21, 2024,