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The Last Days of Video: A Novel (2015)

by Jeremy Hawkins

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443457,079 (3.69)4
Video stores are dying. But most of you don't care. You've got your Netflix and your DVR, so why deal with VHS tapes or scratched DVDs? Why deal with the grumpy guy at the worn-down independent video store? That grumpy guy is Waring Wax, and he's usually too drunk to worry about his declining business at Star Video, let alone his quickly evolving extinction in popular culture. But everything changes in his small college town when a bright and shiny Blockbuster Video opens nearby: Clearly, this means war. So, Waring enlists the help of his two reluctant employees, charismatic but conflicted Alaura and desperate virgin Jeff, to hatch a series of wild schemes to save their little store. Together, these three misfits try to save Star Video while confronting, among other things, Waring's self-destructive tendencies, a life training cult, corporate bicycle gangs, and a Hollywood director who constantly sees the ghost of Alfred Hitchcock. The Last Days of Video is a hilarious elegy for a bygone era, a quirky and charming story of redemption for a group of loveable cinema freaks, and a love letter to the art of the movies.… (more)
  1. 00
    Universal Harvester: A Novel by John Darnielle (sturlington)
    sturlington: These books are not at all alike except that they both feature small-town video stores, they are both by North Carolina writers, and they are both good reads.
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» See also 4 mentions

Showing 2 of 2
Set in a fictionalized version of the town I've lived in or near for pretty much all my life, this debut novel is about a dying video store in 2007 that is a fictionalized version of the video store where I used to rent all my movies. It's a light, humorous story, entertaining if a bit rough around the edges. The characters are the book's strength; the plot seems a little rambling, but pulls it together by the end. I could definitely see this as a movie, shades of High Fidelity, starring Jack Black maybe. ( )
  sturlington | Dec 27, 2015 |
Jeremy Hawkins' knowledge of film makes The Last Days of Video a unique novel that combines an interesting story with constant references to our movie culture. I've watched enough films to understand most of those references and I'm confident other readers will also enjoy them.

The book jacket calls it “...a hilarious elegy for a bygone era, a quirky and charming story...” I agree with the quirky and charming, but can't say I laughed from beginning to end as many other reviewers did. True, Alaura's time at the Reality Center shows a great (and funny) picture of people searching for truth in cult-like organizations and Jeff's background makes an interesting comparison with people who use religion for a similar purpose. But what makes this book great is that I was pulling for the characters in all their odd activities rather than laughing at them. Hawkins even got me to pull for Waring Wax despite the fact that the only time he isn't acting bitter is when he's too drunk to do anything.

I've always had a love for fictional lives. (That's why I write novels and have been active in local theater.) So I can identify with these characters, who also find their solace in fictional stories. I like Alaura best because she has other options. She stays with Star Video due to her love of classic films and I find her love to be contagious.

This is a wonderful novel for anyone who has ever watched a film, especially a rented one.

Steve Lindahl – author of Motherless Soul and White Horse Regressions ( )
  SteveLindahl | May 21, 2015 |
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"Oh, Fortuna, blind, heedless goddess, I am strapped to your wheel," Ignatius belched. "Do not crush me beneath your spokes. Raise me on high, divinity." - John Kennedy Toole, A Confederacy of Dunces
Dedication
For Mom and Dad. And for Clyde.
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The blue and yellow thing leaned over the road, a glossy robot poised to attack.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Video stores are dying. But most of you don't care. You've got your Netflix and your DVR, so why deal with VHS tapes or scratched DVDs? Why deal with the grumpy guy at the worn-down independent video store? That grumpy guy is Waring Wax, and he's usually too drunk to worry about his declining business at Star Video, let alone his quickly evolving extinction in popular culture. But everything changes in his small college town when a bright and shiny Blockbuster Video opens nearby: Clearly, this means war. So, Waring enlists the help of his two reluctant employees, charismatic but conflicted Alaura and desperate virgin Jeff, to hatch a series of wild schemes to save their little store. Together, these three misfits try to save Star Video while confronting, among other things, Waring's self-destructive tendencies, a life training cult, corporate bicycle gangs, and a Hollywood director who constantly sees the ghost of Alfred Hitchcock. The Last Days of Video is a hilarious elegy for a bygone era, a quirky and charming story of redemption for a group of loveable cinema freaks, and a love letter to the art of the movies.

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