This is a short story which, I gather, is part of a larger collection of six stories in the ‘forward collection’. But it’s worth seeking out as a stand-alone novella. Tremblay has really outdone himself here, and I’m now more determined than ever to read A Head Full of Ghosts (his most well-known work).
You awake in a hospital bed. You are blind, alone, and suffering from intense pain. Slowly, you are recuperated. You are taught to think, to talk, to stand, walk, run. Your memories are returned to you. Who is helping your recovery? The mysterious Dr Kuhn, who you are yet to see…
You learn more about yourself, your past, and your relationship to Dr Kuhn as the story unfolds. I’m reluctant to give anything further away, as it’s worth experiencing without spoilers. Suffice to say it will have you questioning ethics, identity, and the authenticity of memories.
The Last Conversation kept me guessing at every page. At one point, I was utterly convinced I knew exactly what was going on and felt very smug indeed. Suffice to say, I was very wrong. Which I loved.
Writing a great short story is an artform. In my last few years of Cannonballing (is that a verb? it is now), I’ve rarely found a short story that hit the mark for me. But this story got me in, hook, line and sinker. It was scary and intriguing and creative and suspenseful and sad and weirdly hopeful. Everything I wanted and more.
5 broken fence palings out of 5.