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The Last Resort

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

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.

White Line

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