Bookshots: 'The Last Projector' By David James Keaton

Bookshots: 'The Last Projector' By David James Keaton

Bookshots: Pumping new life into the corpse of the book review


The Last Projector

Who Wrote It?

There are plenty of what the fuck moments in 'The Last Projector', but overall Keaton manages to balance out the weirdness with his distinct, hilarious voice and craft an intensely engaging plot.

Writer, professor, and bar trivia champion, David James Keaton

Plot in a Box:

A time spanning/swapping crime novel of an ever-shifting alternate version of the 1980’s starring a bitter porn director, two bubble-headed slacktivist/slam poets, and a dog hating K-9 cop. Oh, and it’s about movies. And bubblegum heavy metal.

Invent a new title for this book:

Tattoos Are Ruining Everything

Read this if you liked:

300,000,000 by Blake Butler, Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell, The Naked Soul of Iceberg Slim by Iceberg Slim (I'm just putting that one in there to fuck with you. But you should really read Iceberg Slim.)

Meet the book’s lead(s):

Larry: Former dedicate ambulance driver/lifetime student/bitter porn director/greatest filmmaker in the history of the medium.

Billy: Confused slam poet who has an absolute hard-on for both Bully and Officer BigBee. Both hard-ons are, however, completely different kinds of hard-ons.

Bully: Manic pixie slam poet girl who lives across the street from a drive-in movie theater. She has a hard-on for Officer BigBeet because she’s bored. She doesn’t have a hard-on for Billy, which makes Billy sad.

Officer BigMeat: The psycho K-9 cop with a million different variations of his name and the subject of Billy and Bully’s hard-ons.

Said lead(s) would be portrayed in a movie by:

Larry: John Hawkes (I don’t know if anyone has noticed this or not, but any time I like a novel and I come to this question, I always cast John Hawkes. I really like John Hawkes.)

Billy: Jake Gyllenhaal

Bully: Maggie Gyllenhaal (I can’t say I’m a huge Maggie Gyllenhaal fan. She’s made some decent movies and all, but she’s really not my cup of coffee. But there’s an awkward sexual tension going on between Billy and Bully, so I think the Gyllenhaal’s in these roles would exemplify the weirdness of the relationship.)

Officer BigBee: Thomas F. Wilson. Yeah, Biff from Back to the Future.

(Funny story about Biff. In the second year of my life with Mrs. Rawson, Mrs. Rawson worked at this hotel a couple of miles away from our apartment. Anyway, one week Biff comes as a chaperone for this Christian group his son is in. They’re real holy-rollers and kind of assholes, but you know, Mrs. Rawson had to put up with the assholeness. Anyway, on the last day of Biff’s stay, he comes to the frontdesk in his swimsuit and starts complaining about the vulgar  language some other teenage guests are using in front of his son and his Christian soldier buddies at the pool. Mrs. Rawson explains that she really can’t do anything about the foul language, because, hey, they’re guests, too. Anyway, Biff gets tomato red angry and starts shouting: “Don’t you know who I am? I’m Biff! I’m Biff, dammit!” I love that story, it always makes me laugh.)

Setting: Would you want to live there?

The Last Projector isn’t exactly a "where" type of novel, but a when. Most of it takes place in kind of the 1980’s and I fucking hated the 80’s, so no.

What was your favorite sentence?

Music, movies, and books followed you forward and back. Time was broken when it came to media objects. Occasionally, time could break when it came to music. But time would always be broken when it came to movies.

The Verdict:

If The Last Projector was an animal, it would be a jelly fish. It would be yellow and orange and red with shades of blue and green and would shimmer with joy every time you played a Styx album for it …

No, no, no, wait, if The Last Projector was an animal, it would be an octopus. It would still be yellow and orange and red with shades of blue and green, but it would hate Styx. It would absolutely fucking hate Styx and would attack submarines any time it heard "Mr. Roboto" or "Come Sail Away"…

Nonononononononono, okay, last time, I swear, last time. If The Last Projector was an animal it would be a squid. (I know, I know, jellyfish, squids, and Octopi aren't animals, but just roll with it) It would be a massive squid. A Godzilla size monster squid and it would be the only one ever captured, so it would be a sad squid. It would be a sad squid and any time it felt threatened it would shoot milk colored ink (wait, does a squid or an octopus shoot ink? I can’t remember? I guess I could Google it, but fuck it, I’m feeling lazy today, so we’ll just say it’s a squid that shoots ink) any time it felt threatened. The ink is the same color and texture as cum, so the Ronald Reagan looking motherfuckers who paid to have the squid captured and contained get an idea:


So they put the squid in pornos and they hire actresses who are known for taking heavy loads on their faces and chests. The only problem is the squid doesn’t feel threatened by the ejaculate loving actresses. All they do is caress and rub themselves all over the squid and that feels good. It’s the only time the squid feels good except when it’s reading David Mitchell novels. So the Ronald Reagan bastards decide to take away the squid’s David Mitchell novels and hire a tattoo artist to “contemporize” the squid. Porn actors seem to be really into tattoos and so do people who watch a lot of porn, so since they want to make the squid “The King of the Moneyshot” why not ink him up? The squid is absolutely terrified of the tattoo artist—who, by the way, is the fucking Picasso of tattoo artists—and spritzes the actresses any time the needle touches its delicate skin. The fear loads are so voluminous that both Jenna Jameson and Sasha Grey (both of whom the yuppie shitheels coaxed out of retirement) drown during filming. This doesn’t stop the investors or the tattoo artist. The yuppies market the videos as snuff films and the tattoo artist is having a real break through. He’s crafting a Virgin Mary prison tattoo encompassing the entire back of the squid. The only thing he’s miffed at himself about is that the Virgin Mary is way too skinny. She’s crackhead skinny, Kate Moss skinny…

Okay, wait, last time. If the The Last Projector was an animal, it would be a two foot long, sentient purple dildo in the shape of a tweaker-skinny Virgin Mary ….

Before I go on, I’ll stop here because I want to talk about the commercial post-modernist novel. I know what you’re thinking: There’s no such thing as a “commercial” post-modernist novel. Sure, you can buy Thomas Pynchon and David Foster Wallace at Wal*Mart and airports now, but they’re not “commercial-commercial”. But what if you discovered a post-modernist novel with all the genius level word play, absurdist comedy, and page-upon-page of character and philosophical exposition, but with a beat you can dance to? Yeah, a well-defined plot that doesn't get lost and tangled in all that witty exposition. How would you define that kind of novel? I think you would define it as commercial post-modernism. I think you would define it as The Last Projector. Like most post-modernist novels—yes, even a commercial one—it’s not going to be for everyone. There’s going to be readers who scratch their heads or flat-out toss the novel because they just don’t get it, or walked into it thinking it was a straight forward humorous crime novel. And, yes, there are plenty of "what the fuck" moments in The Last Projector, but overall Keaton manages to balance out the weirdness with his distinct, hilarious voice and craft an intensely engaging plot.

Anyway, that’s The Last Projector, right there. It’s that and a two-foot long purple dildo in the shape of the Virgin Mary.

Keith Rawson

Review by Keith Rawson

Keith Rawson is a little-known pulp writer whose short fiction, poetry, essays, reviews, and interviews have been widely published both online and in print. He is the author of the short story collection The Chaos We Know (SnubNose Press)and Co-Editor of the anthology Crime Factory: The First Shift. He lives in Southern Arizona with his wife and daughter.

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Joshua Chaplinsky's picture
Joshua Chaplinsky from New York is reading a lot more during the quarantine October 30, 2014 - 7:12am

This sounds pretty awesome.

Ben666's picture
Ben666 from Montreal, Canada is reading Scar Tissue, by Marcus Sakey October 30, 2014 - 7:40am


Keith's picture
Keith from Phoenix, AZ is reading Growing Up Dead in Texas by Stephen Graham Jones October 30, 2014 - 7:58am

@Ben666 - Damn right you're sold!