Last Days of the Lacuna Cabal by Sean Dixon

01 September 2009

The Last Days of the Lacuna Cabal

“A heavily embroidered coming-of-age tale....

Energetic....Full of sound and fury.”

—Kirkus Reviews


—Library Journal

“An unapologetically high-concept novel that is

both giddy and reverential.”

—Quill and Quire

The Last Days Of The Lacuna Cabal by Sean Dixon is a mischievous rites of passage tale that takes place just as the Iraq war is exploding. The misfits and oddballs that make up the members of the Lacuna Cabal Montreal Young Women’s Book Club pride themselves on their good taste, intelligent discussions, and impeccable opinions. But what makes them different from other clubs is that they actually enact the books they are reading—until one of the books starts enacting their lives, so to speak.

And this book is The Epic of Gilgamesh—one of the earliest known works of literary fiction. As we know from the start, this epic poem begins “as an adventure story about a hero and his friend, but then somebody dies and everything changes and the hero goes on a long journey, in search of wisdom and the secret of eternal life.” Life imitates art, and our cast of characters set out on their own parallel journey to break their archetypes, discover their identities and places in the world, and grapple with the uncertainty of their futures.

The Last Days Of The Lacuna Cabal is a wildly ambitious novel that is infused with literary references from Margaret Atwood to Anne Carson to Michael Ondaatje. While the story has a surface veneer of playfulness with its raucous dark humor, underneath lies a deep exploration of human fragility and loneliness. Sean Dixon has succeeded in creating an original work that resolutely redefines the postmodern canon of literature by bringing it back to its core—the power of storytelling.


Sean Dixon is a writer, occasional essayist, stage actor, and banjoist. His work has been published in The Globe and Mail, This Magazine, Canadian Theatre Review, and Brick, A Literary Journal. He gave up jobs as a shipper-receiver, a poster boy (of the putting up on billboards variety), and a prison driver to become a writer. He lives and plays banjo in Toronto and is currently working on his next novel.

My Review: I cannot even begin to describe this book. It was not at all what I was expecting. I was thinking it would be a novel about a group of women who belong to a book club and all about their lives. It is so much more than that. I warn you, it is a fairly "heavy" read and written very much like a play. It took me a long time to finish this one, but it was worth it. At times I felt as if I was reading something required for my college lit class, but I really ended up enjoying it. The only word I can really think of to describe it is wild. If you don't mind reading something much more substantial than your everyday novel, then you might very well enjoy Sean Dixon's novel.

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