The Last Animal: Book summary and reviews of The Last Animal by Abby Geni

The Last Animal

by Abby Geni

The Last Animal by Abby Geni X
The Last Animal by Abby Geni
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  • Published in USA  Oct 2013
    304 pages
    Genre: Short Stories/Essays

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Book Summary

The Last Animal by Abby Geni is that rare literary find - a remarkable series of stories unified around one theme: people who use the interface between the human and the natural world to contend with their modern challenges in love, loss, and family life. These are vibrant, weighty stories that herald the arrival of a young writer of surprising feeling and depth.

"Terror Birds" tracks the dissolution of a marriage set against an ostrich farm in the sweltering Arizona desert; "Dharma at the Gate" features the tempest of young love as a teenaged girl must choose between man's best friend, her damaged boyfriend, and a beckoning future; "Captivity" follows an octopus handler at an aquarium still haunted by the disappearance of her brother years ago; "The Girls of Apache Bryn Mawr" details a Greek chorus of Jewish girls at a summer camp whose favorite counselor goes missing under suspicious circumstances; "In the Spirit Room" centers on a scientist suffering the heartbreaking loss of a parent from Alzheimer's while living in the natural history museum where they both worked; in "Fire Blight" a father grieving over his wife's recent miscarriage finds an outlet for comfort in their backyard garden and makes a surprising discovery on how to cherish living things; and in the title story, a retired woman traces the steps of the husband who left her thirty years ago, burning the letters he had sent along the way, while the luminous and exotic wildlife of the Pacific Ocean opens up to receive her.

Unflinching, exciting, ambitious and yet heartfelt, The Last Animal will guide readers through a menagerie of settings and landscapes as it underscores the connection among all living things.

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Reviews

Media Reviews

"Starred Review. An entrancing collection, recommended even for those who generally shy away from short story." - Kirkus

"Starred Review. The short stories in Geni's debut collection beautifully reveal how exposure to nature helps people in emotional pain to recover…All ten stories here are wonderfully written, with precise language and a true compassion for the hardships of the characters. Highly recommended." - Library Journal

"Geni's first book puts us on notice. Here is a fiction writer who perceives the many forms of consciousness at work on the planet...Endangerment, disappearance, isolation, love adrift, the attempt to hold on to and define life - Geni illuminates each condition and effort with keen realism and empathetic imagination to wondrously disquieting effect." - Booklist

"I have known for a while that Abby Geni is a brilliant writer, and I'm happy that at last the world will find out." - Dan Chaon, National Book Award Finalist, author of Stay Awake and Await Your Reply

"Combining the cool precision of a naturalist with the heart of a born storyteller, Abby Geni catalogues an astounding array of characters whose lives have been undone by the mysterious departures and disappearances of loved ones. Instead of solving these mysteries, she plunges us deeper into them, and the results, like so many of the creatures in this book, are strange, haunting, and beautiful." - Jim Gavin, Middle Men

"Abby Geni is a sharpshooter, a tamer of wild animals, a clear-eyed wonder. The Last Animal is a phenomenally ambitious debut collection and announces Geni's many talents to the world with the volume of a herd of stampeding elephants." - Emma Straub

"Abby Geni's worlds exist at the boundary between desolation and abundance, civilization and nature, love and loneliness. It is as if everything and everyone in these beautiful stories is at least half wild." - Ramona Ausubel, A Guide to Being Born

"The Last Animal is a work of rare insight and beauty. Abby Geni's vision is expansive and haunting and wholly new, and she illuminates her characters' loneliness and longing in a way that will break your heart." - Karen E. Bender, A Town of Empty Rooms

"It's rare to find a single story that's both highly imaginative while also unflinchingly earnest, thrilling while also deeply moving and wise." - Alan Heathcock, Volt

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Author Information

Abby Geni Author Biography

Abby Geni is the author of The Lightkeepers, winner of the 2016 Barnes & Noble Discover Great New Writers Award for Fiction and the inaugural Chicago Review of Books Awards for Best Fiction, and The Last Animal (2013), an Indies Introduce Debut Writers Selection and a finalist for the Orion Book Award. Her short stories have won first place in the Glimmer Train Fiction Open and the Chautauqua Contest and have appeared in numerous literary journals and anthologies. Geni is a graduate of the Iowa Writers' Workshop and a recipient of the Iowa Fellowship.

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Name Pronunciation
Abby Geni: Pronounced like genie - jee-nee

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