Thank you to Tin House Books / NetGalley for the early digital copy in exchange for an honest review!
The Last Taxi Driver by Lee Durkee
280 pages (I don’t know how they got that number. My copy was 229 pages.)
Published: 3/3/20 by Tin House Books
Genre: General Fiction
Written by a former cabbie, The Last Taxi Driver is a darkly comic novel about a middle-aged hackie’s daylong descent into madness, heartbreak, and murder. Lou—a lapsed novelist and UFO aficionado—drives 70-hour weeks for a ramshackle taxi company that operates on the outskirts of a north Mississippi college town among the trailer parks and housing projects. With Uber moving into town and his way of life fast vanishing, his girlfriend moving out on him, and his archenemy-dispatcher suddenly returning to the state on the lam, Lou must keep driving his way through a bedlam shift even when that means aiding and abetting the host of criminal misfits haunting the back seat of his Town Car. Shedding nuts and bolts at every turn, The Last Taxi Driver careens through the highways and back roads, from Mississippi to Memphis and back, as Lou becomes increasingly somnambulant and his fares increasingly eccentric. Equal parts Bukowski and Portis, Durkee’s novel is an homage to a dying American industry.
Actually I am a demolition derby of revved-up opinions crashing into each other.
This book is 100% dark humor. If you aren’t used to the ability to brush off tough topics such as suicide, then this might not be for you. Dark humor isn’t my niche, but my brain definitely understands it a bit more than slapstick or blue comedy. Since this is about a cab driver, I expected those types of jokes to pop up. There is a lot of profanity, which doesn’t bother me, but if that bothers you then maybe take caution or just don’t read it.
With all of that being said, this book is genius. I know I didn’t give it five-stars, but I could appreciate what it did. The characters were all so raw, real, and interesting. There was a lot of drug talk, and for a person who lives in a part of Kentucky with that being a pressing issue, this is an accurate depiction.
Lou, the cab driver, seems like he would be independent. You assume he wouldn’t take orders from anyone, but he is quite opposite. The whole book he gives in to all the demands thrown his way, making him lose his mind. He’s constantly thinking about past cab rides he has given to a slew of different people. He even deals with the raging part of driving. There were so many comments woven through this book that made me cackle. I have terrible road rage, and I wanted to rip the pages out of the book, make copies, and tape them to windshields of terrible drivers. Don’t worry, it was very inclusive with the different types of drivers that are out in the world.
This has pretty good ratings on Goodreads, and I don’t blame anyone for loving it. It’s well-written and funny. I understand that it won’t be for everyone, but the community that does enjoy it has every right to. Would I read it again? Possibly. I don’t think I understood everything that was thrown at me. I also didn’t get the point of the ending, but then again, I’m not a critical reader.
I would recommend this to a specific type of reader. It won’t be for everyone.
If you enjoyed this, then give it a like and follow my blog. Be respectful and happy reading!