Some writers are called wordsmiths, but Laszlo Krasznahorkai is a sentence-smith. The first of the three stories that comprise this collection is "The Last Wolf," a novella told in a single looping, challenging, compulsively readable sentence. It follows the travels of a depressed philosophy professor who is mistakenly tapped to write a piece about the Extremadura region of Spain, a barren desert on the border of Portugal. The professor traces the fate of the last living wolf in the region-- but no one can agree on which wolf was the last. The story touches on themes of the human relationships with nature, identity, and knowledge. Worth your time, and you'll be able to say you read it before he wins the Nobel prize. — From James
The Last Wolf, translated by George Szirtes, features a classic, obsessed Krasznahorkai narrator, a man hired to write (by mistake, by a glitch of fate) the true tale of the last wolf of Extremadura, a barren stretch of Spain. This miserable experience (being mistaken for another, dragged about a cold foreign place, appalled by a species' end) is narrated--all in a single sentence--as a sad looping tale, a howl more or less, in a dreary wintry Berlin bar to a patently bored bartender.
The Last Wolf is Krasznahorkai in a maddening nutshell--with the narrator trapped in his own experience (having internalized the extermination of the last creature of its kind and "locked Extremadura in the depths of his own cold, empty, hollow heart")--enfolding the reader in the exact same sort of entrapment to and beyond the end, with its first full-stop period of the book.
Herman, "a peerless virtuoso of trapping who guards the splendid mysteries of an ancient craft gradually sinking into permanent oblivion," is asked to clear a forest's last "noxious beasts." In Herman I: the Game Warden, he begins with great zeal, although in time he "suspects that maybe he was 'on the wrong scent.'" Herman switches sides, deciding to track entirely new game...
In Herman II: The Death of a Craft, the same situation is viewed by strange visitors to the region. Hyper-sexualized aristocratic officers on a very extended leave are enjoying a saturnalia with a bevy of beauties in the town nearest the forest. With a sense of effete irony, they interrupt their orgies to pitch in with the manhunt of poor Herman, and in the end, "only we are left to relish the magic bouquet of this escapade..." Translated by John Batki.