cover image The Last Resort

The Last Resort

Chronicle Books, Aggie Max. Chronicle Books, $18.95 (192pp) ISBN 978-0-8118-1285-6

""There are few people who would want to visit me in my present state,"" writes the pseudonymous narrator Ashby. ""Maybe no one."" Unfortunately, that includes readers who may come expecting to discover something like Lars Eighner's moving Travels with Lizbeth, but instead find a self-indulgent and bitter diatribe on the woes of life in a downtown Oakland transient hotel. In brief sketches and journal entries, the author complains about her shipyard-worker roommate's stupidity while using him as her gofer, groans that soup-kitchen food is making her sick while imbibing as daily libations jugs of wine and cans of Green Mamba, and blames all of her problems on ""Them""--the government, her landlords, or anyone else who isn't a ""bag lady"" like her. The alienation is compounded by lack of structure, facts and background information; not until Chapter 27, for example, does the reader learn anything about the events leading up to the author's vagrancy. Nor do they ever find out exactly what she does all day, how she comes up with the money to pay the rent, or why, ""After fourteen years of college and nine-tenths of an MFA,"" she deems herself incapable of ever finding a job because she doesn't know what she'd wear to an interview. ""I should file a complaint,"" Max writes. ""But who would listen?"" Who, indeed? (May)