Reading Guide Questions
Please be aware that this discussion guide may contain spoilers!
- Werewolves have a long literary lineage, in folk tales and works of fiction, and they loom large in popular culture. In what ways does The Last Werewolf remain faithful to the genre and at the same time bring something new to it? In what ways is it innovative?
- Once a month, Jake murders and eats an innocent human being (or mostly - innocent hedge fund manger is borderline). And yet he is a tremendously likable character. How does Duncan make him so appealing despite his being a monster?
- Why is Jake so disillusioned with life as the novel begins? Why is he willing to let himself be killed? What makes him want to live again?
- Jacqueline Delon tells Jake: "Werewolves are not a subject for academe... but you know what the professors would be saying if they were. 'Monsters die out when the collective imagination no longer needs them. Species death like this is nothing more than a shift in the aggregate psychic agenda." Why would human beings need to create monsters? What psychic function do monsters such as werewolves and vampires serve? Is Delon correct in concluding that "The beast is redundant. It's been us all along"?
- Why does Jake murder and devour his wife and their unborn child as his first kill? How does he punish himself for that crime?
- Throughout his narrative, Jake references Shakespeare, Charlotte Brontë, Matthew Arnold, Nabakov, Susan Sontag, Ovid, and many other writers. What does his literary sophistication and general worldliness add to his character?
- Is "the Hunger" as Jake calls it - the irresistible need to kill and eat a live human being - a metaphor? Does it have some larger meaning, or is it simply what werewolves are condemned to do?
- What makes Glenn Duncan's prose style so distinctive and engaging? What are some of the novel's most arresting passages or scenes?
- Why does Jake keep a journal? What function does telling his story serve for him? Is Jacqueline Delon right when she says: "What is this - what are these journals - if not the compulsion to tell the truth of what you are? And what is the compulsion to tell the truth if not a moral compulsion?" Is Jake, in the end, a moral being?
- Why do Ellis, Poulsom, and the vampires all want Jake to live? Why does Grainer want him dead?
- The Last Werewolf is a tremendously sensual novel. After making love in a Manhattan hotel, Jake and Talulla lie on the bed, "warm as a pot of sunlit honey." What are some of the novel's most erotically charged passages? What are some other examples of the sensuousness of Duncan's prose?
- Why would variations on the ironic statement, You live because you have to. There is no God and this is his only Commandment appear like a refrain throughout the novel? What is Jake's attitude toward God and irony?
- The Last Werewolf is a supernatural thriller, a witty and often biting cultural commentary, a confession narrative, and a love story. What does the love story, Jake's relationship with Talulla, add to the novel? Why is it important, both in terms of the plot and in terms of Jake's emotional development? How does being with Tululla change him?
- In talking about Quinn's journal and why he tried to find it, Jake tells Talulla: "It's the same old shit. The desire to know whence we came in the hope it'll shed light on why we're here and where we're going. The desire for life to mean something more than random subatomic babble." Why might a werewolf be especially concerned with the origin and meaning of his life? Does Jake really feel it's foolish to want answers to those questions?
- What is the irony of America's Next Top Model playing in background as Jake and Tululla devour music producer Drew Hillard? Where else does Jake make references to pop culture? In what ways does the novel present a critique of pop culture while at the same time participating in it?
Unless otherwise stated, this discussion guide is reprinted with the permission of Vintage.
Any page references refer to a USA edition of the book, usually the trade paperback version, and may vary in other editions.