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The Last Animal

3.86  ·  Rating details ·  384 ratings  ·  82 reviews
The Last Animal by Abby Geni is that rare literary find — a remarkable series of stories unified around one theme: people who use the interface between the human and the natural world to contend with their modern challenges of love, loss, and family life. These are vibrant, weighty stories that herald the arrival of a young writer of surprising feeling and depth.

“Terror Bi
Paperback, 304 pages
Published October 14th 2014 by Counterpoint (first published January 1st 2013)
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Review originally posted on A Skeptical Reader.

The Last Animal is a collection of ten short stories that deal with human nature and in some ways our relationship to the animals around us. I barely managed to read the first four short stories (125 pgs out of 278) before deciding to give up on the rest.

I really enjoyed Geni’s novel, The Lightkeepers, but The Last Animal is everything I dislike about literary short fiction. It is flat, predictable, the tone is mostly monotonous, and the stories dea
Mar 23, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I absolutely love reading short story collections that arent well know and that seem somehow peculiar and unique, but sometimes I go into them with false expectations. From the few things Id heard about The Last Animal I thought it would have magical realism and focus heavily on wildlife, but thats not quite what I got. Though I was able to enjoy the unexpected realism and studies on human nature, instead of actual nature. The stories were a hit or miss for me, few I didnt get at all, but three ...more
Oct 07, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
So many of the stories in this collection are absolute stunners that it’s easier to forgive the few stories that don’t quite make the grade. Reminiscent of Ms. Bergman’s Birds of a Lesser Paradise – yet (in my mind) much better executed, the finest stories interweave the immutable connection between humankind and the rest of the animal kingdom.

The opening story, Terror Birds, awes with its power. It’s set in an Arizona ostrich farm, told through alternating first person narrations of mother and
Jan 15, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
3.5 stars rounded up because this writer tells us more about the character's emotions, core, perplexity, (put whatever other emotional or motivational aspect in this spot) with less words and dialog than 90% of other modern writers. I like that. Immensely.

She does not have to say "she felt, she protested, she argued" and then another 3 paragraphs of emoting sighing or verbose explanations in the conversations to the other characters. It's similar to the skill of "the LOOK" some Mothers can give
Bonnie Brody
Jan 05, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The Last Animal by Abby Geni is a wonder of a book. It consists of short stories that counter the natural world against the inner workings of the human mind. Some of the places that the book takes us are the human womb, an ostrich farm, a natural history museum, and the Mexican ocean. Most of the stories deal with the theme of loss and ways that we counter against it by our actions or using a talisman to try to ward off further danger or pain.

The stories are finely wrought and intricately writte
Karl Bunker
Jul 30, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I received an advance review copy of this book, and before I was halfway through it I knew I'd found an author to add to my top tier of favorites. This collection is absolutely wonderful.

If it weren't for the publisher's description, I'm not sure I would have noticed that animals and nature were a common theme in these stories. But that piece of marketing was what piqued my interest in the book, so I'm not going to criticize it. A more obvious common theme might be loss; loved ones are missing o
Crystal Rodriguez
the first two stories were slow to start but really amazing. I liked how she tied the animals in. The ones that followed, long, dry, boring. hard time finishing because I had no tie to the characters. she should have focused on the first two as the only stories since the rest felt rushed.
I guess I'm a little bias when it comes to this book, seeing as Abby is my Creative Writing teacher in school right now! Personally, I think she's a great teacher, and definitely knows her stuff. And I did like this collection of stories, but as with most collections of short stories, I only liked about half of them.

Captivity was definitely one of my favorites, simply because the MC walked a freakin octopus. And I adored Landscaping; it wasn't so much a short story as a long poem. It was that b
I received an electronic advanced reading copy of this from the publisher via NetGalley.

Two of the stories in this collection immediately recalled fond memories from when I first read them in Glimmer Train, so I was eager to read more of Geni's short stories. I not only enjoyed those stories new to me, the collection gave me new insight and appreciation of those two pieces I'd already read. The Goodreads description for these stories and their unifying theme at the interface of humans with the
Like many short story collections some were incredibly entertaining while others had me regrettably bored. The Last Animal is a collection that I have owned for over a year now and have been desperately wanting to read (enamoured by the excellent cover and rave reviews) and have never gotten around to (I partly blame George R.R. Martin). I liked it. I don't think I would recommend it until I have read more short story collections in which to compare The Last Animal. This is my second short stor ...more
Charlotte Jones
I will say straight away that despite the amazing praise I heard about this short story collection and the gorgeous cover, I found this to be incredibly disappointing.

I had to force myself to finish this book which isn't something I was expecting at all. I found that although the writing style was beautiful in places, all of the stories had a very similar tone and although they were all different stories, they seemed to blend together in my mind.

The one story that stood out for me was the secon
Sep 11, 2013 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2013, netgalley
There is a connection between humankind and the world of animals and nature that is beautifully described in this series of short stories by Abby Geni. Each story conveys a deep sense of loss and at times, despair. However, there is also a sense of hopefulness and optimism which encourages the reader onto the next story in anticipation.

Two stories stood out for me. In “Captivity”, one of the earlier stories, a young woman is trying to come to terms with the disappearance of her brother. She is a
Sep 14, 2013 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
The first five stories made such a strong impression that I couldn't shut up about them, really bugling the hell out of one in particular. Then I read the sixth. And the seventh. And the rest. It's a fantastic debut that just seems to get a little winded on the last lap. Geni's correlative thread is a conceit that is far more subtle and interesting than the publisher synopsis would lead you to believe and I enjoyed reading it a great deal...I simply wish I'd enjoyed finishing it for reasons othe ...more
Kasey Cocoa
Jul 23, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: review-requested
Heartwarming and touching stories written with an understanding of the world around us in a delightful delicate way. Guaranteed to reach even the coldest heart so bring your tissues as you enjoy these stories. Well balanced and skillfully delivered with a bit of flair. This book comes highly recommended.
Jan 03, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Highly observant, balanced stories often informed by the connection between man and animals. Many involve sibling and family relationships (good and bad). Each story is a surprise--either the range of subjects she commands, or the direction it takes. Geni is certainly a writer to watch.
Dec 31, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A wonderful debut collection - each story has great emotional depth, each protagonist is different (a surprising rarity in collections), and whilst there is nothing tricksy here, every story gives the reader something to think about. Abby Geni is clearly a writer to watch.
Jul 08, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
There are some very heavy themes in these lovely stories, to the point where the collection should maybe come with a warning label. If you have an emotional trigger, it will probably be hit by one of the stories.
3.5 stars for these enjoyable stories.
Ernest Dempsey
Feb 10, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Awesome! I love this book; each story is a joy to read.
Sep 09, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
These are some nice stories. Well crafted, imaginative, and emotional. I was hoping for a lite more weirdness when I picked up the book, but this was good too.
Linda De
Feb 10, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
My friend sent me this book, and at first I was skeptical because I'm not really a short story type of a person, but I must say, I really enjoyed this book! Every story was interesting.
Holly Rea
3.5 stars

The Last Animal is a collection of ten short stories exploring loss and grief and hope. All these stories are focused on people and emotion, but they all include an aspect of nature, whether animals or the natural world, to help communicate and deal with the emotions.

Terror Birds - One of my favourites. Set on an ostrich farm, exploring family relationships and dynamics, and the struggles a young boy faces amidst the possibility of a broken home. The ostriches are beautifully portrayed
Feb 22, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
4.5 stars, rounded up. What an amazing collection of short fiction that examines how we as humans relate to nature, animals, and most importantly each other. This book made me feel grounded in the world, so connected in the best way possible.

Even though there were a couple of stories that were just okay, the rest were beyond excellent, including a few that will stick with me for quite some time - which is why I couldn't justify giving it a lower rating. Besides, I can already tell I'll be re-re
Aug 30, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The emotions these stories conveyed will stay with me at least as long as many of it's hauntingly beautiful images. Human and animal in a dialogue, the animal often ending up teaching the human characters lessons about themselves, their lifes, the choices they made. The animal as a way of reflecting our own self, is what all the stories in this collection have in common. But it is not as clear cut as I am making it out to be. You can get wonderfully lost while wading in the possible messages and ...more
Graham Wilhauk
I LOOOOOVED the first three stories in here and the rest just ranged from good to meh. There was not a story in here that I fully disliked, but there were a few that I was just indifferent to. Overall, I did like this, but I was expecting more out of it. I just have nothing to say. It was a good collection, but nothing past that.

I am giving this one a 3.5 out of 5 stars.
Sep 29, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Sep 26, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: short-stories
A nice collection from an author I am really enjoying. I look forward to reading her new novel soon!
Oct 26, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Wonderful engrossing stories.
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Low levels and I’m saying and even 1 3 Jun 16, 2015 10:28PM  
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  • Girl Trouble: Stories
  • By Light We Knew Our Names
  • The People in the Castle: Selected Strange Stories
  • No Animals We Could Name
  • Irregular Verbs and Other Stories
  • Don't Try This at Home
  • All Most
  • Something Is Out There
  • Damage Control: Stories
  • Circus
  • The End of Love
  • Night Games and Other Stories and Novellas
  • At the Mouth of the River of Bees
  • Volt
  • Antarctica
  • Hall of Small Mammals: Stories
  • The Baby in the Icebox and Other Short Fiction
Abby Geni is the author of The Lightkeepers, winner of the 2016 Barnes & Noble Discover Great New Writers Award for Fiction and the inaugural Chicago Review of Books Awards for Best Fiction, and The Last Animal (2013), an Indies Introduce Debut Writers Selection and a finalist for the Orion Book Award. Her short stories have won first place in the Glimmer Train Fiction Open and the Chautauqua ...more