I’ve published Nick’s short fiction half a dozen times and a book he wrote about surviving as a writer titled Starve Better. If you’re in the enlightened intersection of readers who have read both, then you can imagine that someone like Vasilis “Billy” Kostopolos (the protagonist of The Last Weekend) would carry Starve Better around like a survivalist’s guide.
Billy is a writer wannabe, a smart ass, a know-it-all, a drunk, and a survivor. He lives in the post-apocalyptic remains of San Francisco. A zombie plague has hit the United States (and ONLY the United States) and the remnants of American society fight among themselves to continue living. The revenated (a great word coined by Billy in the book) are a constant threat to Billy’s existence of writing and alcohol.
He gets mixed up with two women intent on exposing the perceived corruption of San Francisco’s city hall. Interspersed throughout are pre-plague chapters of Billy’s journey from iron belt Greek to the intellectual circles of Boston. These are quite enjoyable and lift the book from a solid mixed-genre pastiche of Bukowski-like self-destruction and zombie fun to a novel holding tightly to a potent emotional core (and makes the book accessible to a broader spectrum of readers). Billy might be broken, but the reader comes to understand why. The kid never stood a chance.
The Last Weekend is a darkly funny, unapologetic novel that will feed your brainless zombie appetite while making you feel like an intellectual for reading it.
Mamatas has written an excellent guest essay that can be read at Locus Online where he discusses the influences present in The Last Weekend. His examination of Haldeman’s genre classic The Forever War is particularly enlightening.