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The Last Taxi Driver: Book summary and reviews of The Last Taxi Driver by Lee Durkee

The Last Taxi Driver

by Lee Durkee

The Last Taxi Driver by Lee Durkee X
The Last Taxi Driver by Lee Durkee
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  • Published in USA  Mar 2020
    280 pages
    Genre: Novels

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Book Summary

Written by a former cabbie, The Last Taxi Driver is equal parts Bukowski and Portis, and an homage to a dying American industry.

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.

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Reviews

Media Reviews

"Durkee's long-awaited second novel is a black-comic delight...Lou is damaged, bitter, self-righteous, with a hint of Sam Spade masochism...yet the book's relentless grimness never seems either relentless or grim. Instead there's a comic sweetness and energy underneath that reminds one of Charles Portis." - Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

"By turns hilarious, angry and sweet, once again Durkee perfectly captures the mood of our time." - Square Books, Washington Post, Book Club newsletter

"When a novel is called a 'must-read,' it often means that it has become an upper-class status symbol. It will be placed on coffee tables prior to cocktail parties or included in the "ask me about" sections of corporate bios. So it feels wrong to call Lee Durkee's The Last Taxi Driver a must-read novel. This book is actively antagonistic to the soft-spoken literature that is pumped straight from academic writing programs into the upscale corners of Brooklyn. At the same time, it's hard not to call The Last Taxi Driver a must-read — simply because it's one of the best novels in recent memory." - The Washington Examiner

"A wild, funny, poetic fever-dream that will change the way you think about America. Durkee is a true original―a wise and wildly talented writer who knows something profound about that special strain of American darkness that comes out of blended paucity, materialism, and addiction―but also, in the joy and honesty and wit of the prose, he offers a way out. I loved this book and felt jangled and inspired and changed by it." - George Saunders

"The Last Taxi Driver is unpredictable, emotionally moving, and laugh-out-loud funny. Lee Durkee writes with honesty and deep insight. This book is filled with compassion. I loved it. The best book I've read in years." - Chris Offutt, author of Country Dark

"This book's a blast! A super-long shift in the life of a north Mississippi taxi driver makes for hilarious moments as well as lyrical ones. Durkee's Mississippi is entirely his own as he parades a line of passengers that are as colorful, sad, and strange as any in literature. A terrific novel by a terrific writer!" - Tom Franklin, author of Crooked Letter, Crooked, Letter

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Author Information

Lee Durkee

Lee Durkee is the author of the novel Rides of the Midway. His stories and essays have appeared in Harper's magazine, the Sun, Best of the Oxford American, Zoetrope: All-Story, Tin House, New England Review, and Mississippi Noir. In 2021, his memoir Stalking Shakespeare will chronicle his decade-long obsession with trying to find lost portraits of William Shakespeare. A former cab driver, he lives in north Mississippi.

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