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27th November 2013

the last photographAlthough The Last Photograph is not connected in any way with Simon Astaire’s previous three novels, the theme of alcohol, which was central to the third, Mr Coles, undergoes a further examination here.

This time the alcoholic is Tom Hammond, who in two tragic twists of fate takes up the bottle to deal with the pain of losing his wife and son. But his lonely and isolated world begins to shift when a bag containing the last photograph taken with his son the night before his death is stolen.

This novel walks us through a snapshot of time in our own increasingly out of control world. It deals, in part, with the tragedy in the late 1980’s when the PAN AM 103 flight to New York was blown up over Lockerbie in Scotland with no survivors. There is an air of finality, a disquieting quality of the terrible inevitability of being in the wrong place at the wrong time.

Intriguingly, Astaire does not try to analyse why horrific events like Lockerbie have happened. Instead, he tries to explore the emotional impact on one victim’s family whose faith is stretched to the absolute limits.  This story is about finding hope where there is none. And, about the acceptance of powerlessness over alcohol, and the inevitable unmanageability of its baffling and cunning control.

 

However, just like life, this story is not all doom and gloom. Astaire’s quicksilver style is both engaging for those of us with monkey minds and endearingly sensitive. His self deprecating central character is a habitual soul keenly aware of his own mind games. And these are mainly played out against a sensory tapestry of tasty little vignettes of London life.

Ultimately, Tom Hammond’s quest for his lost photograph is a journey to peace. And, Simon Astaire’s masterful depiction of a broken man’s life reveals his astonishing ability to wander in fields of consciousness where the confluent answers to life’s tougher questions, and a path to spiritual guidance in a turbulent world reside.

 

Published by Spellbinding Media www.spellbindingmedia.co.uk