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the Complete Review
the complete review - fiction



The Last of Philip Banter

by
John Franklin Bardin


general information | review summaries | our review | links | about the author

To purchase The Last of Philip Banter



Title: The Last of Philip Banter
Author: John Franklin Bardin
Genre: Novel
Written: 1947
Length: 206 pages
Availability: The Last of Philip Banter - US
The Last of Philip Banter - UK
Qui veut la peau de Philip Banter ? - France
Geständnis auf Raten - Deutschland

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Our Assessment:

B+ : a bit too much alcoholic excess and unclear memories, but a clever idea, and pretty well done

See our review for fuller assessment.




Review Summaries
Source Rating Date Reviewer
The NY Herald Trib Book Rev. . 16/2/1947 .
The NY Times Book Rev. . 30/3/1947 Isaac Anderson
San Francisco Chronicle . 2/3/1947 Anthony Boucher
Saturday Rev. of Lit. . 1/3/1947 .
TLS . 24/12/1976 Patricia Highsmith


  From the Reviews:
  • "After reading this story one comes to the conclusion that almost every person in it needs to be psychoanalyzed." - Isaac Anderson, The New York Times Book Review

Please note that these ratings solely represent the complete review's biased interpretation and subjective opinion of the actual reviews and do not claim to accurately reflect or represent the views of the reviewers. Similarly the illustrative quotes chosen here are merely those the complete review subjectively believes represent the tenor and judgment of the review as a whole. We acknowledge (and remind and warn you) that they may, in fact, be entirely unrepresentative of the actual reviews by any other measure.

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The complete review's Review:

       The Last of Philip Banter begins:

    'Philip Banter,' he said to himself, 'you are in a bad way.'
       He's not kidding. He's on his way to work in the morning, has no memory of exactly what happened to him the previous night (including why his wrist is bandaged), and has no better solution to his woes than to stop in a bar for a couple of shots of rye (though it's only 10 A.M.)
       Things are not helped when he finds a fifteen page manuscript on his desk when he finally does get to work, with his name and address on it, and the title 'Confession'. It's written in the first person, and it sounds like it was written by him: he writes about his wife Dorothy, and dinner with an old friend, Jeremy, and Jeremy's unnamed new girlfriend. In the confession Banter is the one to take his friend's girl home -- and he sleeps with her. Then:
    The manuscript ended there without reaching a conclusion. As if there would be more -- later.
       Troubling also is that it describes the events of the evening of Tuesday, December 1 -- but it's only Tuesday morning. It's even more troubling when he gets home (after losing yet another account at his father-in-law's ad agency -- and getting fired) when he finds that Jeremy and a friend of his are coming over to dinner that night .....
       Was the confession describing the future ? But how could that be ? Banter is understandably disconcerted. Having just gotten fired and being an extremely heavy drinker with gaps in his memory obviously doesn't help things either.
       Earlier that same day his wife, Dorothy, and her father had consulted with a psychiatrist (none other than Dr. George Matthews, the scarred star from The Deadly Percheron), describing their concerns about Banter's alcohol consumption, womanizing, and general strange behaviour recently. Everyone -- Banter included -- seems to think that, if not already certifiable, Banter is pretty darn close.
       Finding a second instalment of the 'Confession' on his desk the next day -- the desk at which he had fallen asleep, after stumbling to it completely drunk late the night before -- understandably confounds Banter even more. And again it predicts what will happen that night .....
       "I must be losing my mind", Banter thinks. Or else someone is doing a damn good job of driving him to it.
       Banter desperately tries to get to the bottom of things, but it's complicated. Dorothy was Jeremy's girl before she married Banter, and some of those old feelings seem to have resurfaced. Dorothy's father (and Banter's boss) has an interest in his daughter that seems to go beyond the merely paternal (and she's not the only character with that problem). And then there's Banter's secretary, Alice Grey, who is acting a bit suspicious.
       Bardin doesn't exactly whip up a frenzy, but rather offers dizzying swirls of drunken twists (and the odd bits of nausea thrown in (or rather: up)). There's little laughter and too much forgetting, as Banter racks his brains and then washes away any lingering memories with yet more alcohol. Still, it's a gripping story, the clever premise fairly nicely worked out, the tension always high, the blind alleys and the mis-leads pretty well done.
       The writing helps sustain everything; Bardin knows how to grab and hold and offers a few well-placed shocks. A few scenes take your breath away:
He laid her down gently, bending his body until his face was close to hers; his lips lingered over hers. He stayed this way for a long moment, before he crushed her mouth with his own.
       (That may not seem all that much on its own, but trust us: it makes for a hell of a scene.)
       The resolution is a bit forced, the final scene too neatly tied up, but it's still a worthwhile ride.

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Links:

John Franklin Bardin: Other books by John Franklin Bardin under review: Other books of interest under review:

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About the Author:

       American author John Franklin Bardin lived 1916-1981.

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© 2003-2010 the complete review

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