Michael Bishop. He reads comic books, plays Nintendo, drinks highballs as he Tweets. Last Call in the City of Bridges chronicles his relationship with a pastor's daughter, his coming to terms with the demons of his childhood and his difficulties living in a post-Facebook world.
Salvatore Pane is an Assistant Professor of English at University of Indianapolis, and Last Call is his debut novel. A Scranton, Penn. native, Pane vividly depicts a stark, post-industrial Pittsburgh, but his real focus is on a network of pop culture and social media that has no particular geographical location because it is, in a sense, everywhere. His spontaneous-seeming, tongue-in-cheek prose makes this novel both remarkably funny and quite readable.
In a chapter that details the night of the 2004 presidential election, Michael and his roommate Oz escape to a cabin in the mountains of New York where they spend their time bingeing on entertainment in the form of comics, video games and film. In times of trouble, Michael turns to mentors like an Barack Obama given an Obi-Wan-like translucence and Kanye West piloting an Escalade rocket ship.
Last Call explores in detail the incredible effect of the internet, particularly social networking, on our generation. In a chapter titled "On the Defining Moment of Our Generation" Michael explains that "the shared experience of the 21st century" isn't tragedy or war or politics; it's Facebook. Social networking allows all of us, Michael included, to seek understanding and validation.
Throughout Last Call, Pane masterfully interpolated moments of honesty and tenderness into a narrative largely given over to the bleakness of a generation limping on crutches of pop culture and social media. At one point, Bishop and Oz's discuss whether or not it was appropriate to include the Ewoks in the Star Wars saga. That they agree upon a couple things - a shared admiration for the Ewoks' tree houses and communal living arrangements - points to the friends' yearning for social networking in a different sense.