|In The Last Cigarette, democracy has dwindled away into the perpetual twilight of special prosecutions, and secret operations are a way of channeling evil actions into useless pursuits.
Eight years after the prohibition of cigarettes, the Nation is a placid, orderly society. At public demonstrations, citizens proclaim spirited, if less than spontaneous, patriotic sentiments. They go about their daily routines, comforted by the belief that everything is as it should be—as it has always been.
But even though living in the tolerable present captivates the collective imagination, the Nation’s long-term success depends on rebuilding its past. The personal memories of the citizenry are being surveyed, cataloged, scrutinized, and restructured by the State.
Still, old habits die hard. Paul Weber, on an impulse, steals the last cigarette from the National Museum. For Paul this cigarette represents a piece of unfinished business requiring cautious and ingenious disposal.
“An original way to conjure the freedoms inevitably lost when any society seeks, in
the best interests of all, to prohibit things that give people relief and pleasure.”
—Jonathan Yardley, Washington Post Book World
“Waldrop tells a thousand stories within a story, and each is relevant and succinct.
The Last Cigarette gives answers to questions that tragically are scarcely
asked and asks questions of its own.”—ForeWord
“The Last Cigarette suspends the reader within an insomniac's dream, in which only the night
watches the events of a Kafkaesque narrative as they ricochet off the
protagonist. Reading it may affect your balance.”—William D. Routt
“An ambitious, sophisticated plot. The nightmarish atmosphere of the futuristic
world is well sustained.”—Publishers Weekly