DiscoverLiterary Fiction

The Last Resort

By

Loved it! 😍

The Last Resort deals with an issue with global resonance and makes its point gently but forcefully.

Synopsis

A Manhattan corporate attorney, with career and marriage in turmoil, drives desperately away from all he knows to an out-of-season resort on Long Island. As he struggles to put his life back together, he meets a surfer, a fisherman, and a Native American woman fighting to preserve ancestral land threatened with development, a fight that eventually endangers her life. The tension between past and present comes alive as he finds new meaning in life through the natural world and social justice for a long-oppressed race of people.

Kay Tobler Liss's The Last Resort deals with an issue with global resonance in our times: how the needs of modern development encroaching on old ways of life drive them to a slow extinction. The Last Resort is about the conflict between the two sides involved in this narrative: the oppressors – states and corporations, and the tribal groups inhabiting ancient lands that have fallen prey to the insatiable needs of development.


Paul Collins, a city-based corporate attorney, comes to Montauk, a village town, to escape his decaying marriage and his professional life which doesn’t motivate him anymore.  In Montauk, he has a chance meeting with a beautiful woman, Oshanta. Oshanta belongs to a Native American group which has been driven away from its ancestral land by state and corporate backed development. So much so that even its existence as a people was denied by the judiciary about a hundred years ago. And against this background a conflict is brewing. A group is trying to develop a golf course on the strip of land that Montauketts have inhabited for centuries.


Oshanta slowly opens the window of the Montauk world and its natives to Paul. And the latter slowly discovers a renewed interest in life – a cause to throw himself into, a place to find refuge in, and a love to live for. Trying to prevent the land from being used for a golf course, he decides to use his lawyerly skills and contacts to fight on the side of the beleaguered.


Kay Tobler Liss has dealt with the novel’s technical aspects deftly. Written in the first person with Paul Collins as the narrator, the narrative slowly widens its scope as it progresses, taking into its sweep the complete history of the land and its people, down to its fauna and flora. (Some of the descriptions of the place are simply breathtaking.)


And then the narrative gradually narrows its scope to zero in on the crisis of the golf course, bringing the two opposing groups together in a microcosm of a century-long conflict between the two groups.


The characters – Paul, Oshanta, Bertrand – have been developed well by having outlined their past and thereby bringing their motives into focus. The book doesn’t have too many characters which helps it stick to its point without unnecessary digressions.


Kay Tobler Liss presents a lot of conflicting perspectives – some direct, others abstract - from various stalwarts of philosophy to make her point about injustice caused to Native Americans and similar groups across the world.


It would have been easier to get reader sympathy by throwing in graphic scenes of violence against the natives or situations showing the natives being mortified. But Kay Tobler Liss chooses to appeal to the reader’s intellect rather than baser emotions. But I also believe doing so could have put more vigour into the narrative which at times slows down a bit and gets a little monotonous.  

Reviewed by

I am a working professional. I have been writing for many years. I have published some of my works in various publications. I like to read and read quite widely. I bring that experience to the book reviews I write.

Synopsis

A Manhattan corporate attorney, with career and marriage in turmoil, drives desperately away from all he knows to an out-of-season resort on Long Island. As he struggles to put his life back together, he meets a surfer, a fisherman, and a Native American woman fighting to preserve ancestral land threatened with development, a fight that eventually endangers her life. The tension between past and present comes alive as he finds new meaning in life through the natural world and social justice for a long-oppressed race of people.

White Line


           I’m rushing into the tunnel light, leaving everything behind. I try not to think, just keep my mind on the white line ahead, let it lead me, take me as far as it goes. There's nothing else now, a thought as chilling as it is strangely thrilling. A feeling like ice fighting fire runs through my veins.

           But no more thoughts.  Follow the white line. I glance at the speedometer: pushing into the red zone. I loosen my grip, so hard, on the wheel and ease up my foot from the floor.

           Finally out of the tunnel and heading due east. The city's jagged gray outline — once appearing to me so promising in its bold thrusting upward — now seems like a sad, worn scar upon the edge of the horizon, fading, enveloped in a surreal haze of sunset and smog.

           A little less frantic than moments ago, but I’m still too close to spinning out of control.  I take some deep breaths and wish I could shut off my mind for a while. Why is it so hard to possess such a power? Maybe if I'd taken Barry's advice — how many years ago? — back in the late ‘60s, and learned TM, I could clear my mind at will.

           Yet, if I had taken his advice, the entire course of my life might have been different, and at this moment in time I wouldn't be here on the Long Island Expressway, going this killing speed in my car, in my mind.    

          I better slow down. The wheel’s shaking in my hands. I glance in the rear view mirror.  Normally so implacably calm, it’s a face I almost don’t recognize, every muscle so taut, eyes wide and wild, like some crazed character conjured up in a bad dream.

I refocus my eyes intently ahead, try to imagine myself like Barry, serenely meditating on a mountaintop in India. It’s strange how, even in extreme moments like this, when things can't get much worse and someone else’s life appears infinitely better, it’s hard to put myself in another’s life. I am who I am — and who I will be?  

Who I will be, who I will be. Suddenly my thoughts retreat to that distant, idyllic time as a freshman in college, studying the Greek classics.  My life stretching brightly ahead down an uncluttered road, how terrifying to me was the ancient Greek concept of fate: that chorus like a chill wind blowing ceaselessly through the plays, whispering of a character's sad but sure destiny, despite how young and full of promise he was. 

I must stop letting my mind wander so far! Just focus on the straight, white line ahead.  How purposeful and clear it is, like my life … but … but isn’t that turning out to be no longer true, and maybe was always more an illusion, something I constructed, one comforting lie upon another?  

My grip gets tighter on the wheel again, my foot presses closer to the floor. How easily it responds, how intoxicating the rush feels. 

Yes, there it is!  I started out wanting to do something good, nothing too grand. I saw that shining line between the just and the unjust, but then that clear line began to disappear: lawyers and the corporations we represent, just wanting to win, no matter what. And in a time when people judge you more by how much money you make, if you win at whatever you do, or how much power you wield, speaking of what is good and honorable sounds oddly quaint and anachronistic.

Still, in spite of the growing grimness I felt in my work — the sleazy deals and plea bargains, corrupt judges and defense of those I knew were pre-eminently guilty — I probably could have persevered, if it hadn't been for ….

Red zone, definitely crash and burn time if I think about her. Steady now, focus on the white line again. See how it leads into the darkness spreading out wider and wider the farther I look? Like my life, starting out at a fixed point then breaking up into indefinable fragments disappearing into a fathomless black hole. An end, no doubt — but could it also be a beginning?   

Enough, enough thinking!

I'll just keep going as far as I can go. There’re hardly any other cars now.  I’m getting out into the country, the moon and stars shining brightly overhead. The air is tinged with a saltiness, and there’re no sounds in my head but the whirring of wheels spinning on pavement.

 


About the author

Kay Tobler Liss worked as a writer and editor for newspapers and magazines for many years. She studied Literature at Bard College and Environmental Studies at Southampton College and taught both subjects. The novel combines her passion for nature and for social justice for oppressed people. view profile

Published on July 31, 2020

Published by Plain View Press

60000 words

Genre: Literary Fiction

Reviewed by

Enjoyed this review?

Get early access to fresh indie books and help decide on the bestselling stories of tomorrow. Create your free account today.

or

Or sign up with an email address

Create your account

Or sign up with your social account