Lou drives 70-hour weeks for a ramshackle taxi company that operates on the outskirts of a north Mississippi college town among the trailer parks and housing projects. With Uber moving into town and his way of life fast vanishing, his girlfriend moving out on him, Lou must keep driving his way through a bedlam shift even when that means aiding and abetting the host of criminal misfits haunting the back seat of his Town Car.
... disarmingly honest and darkly comic ... Durkee’s aims ultimately lie in probing, not deep existential pain, but a byproduct formed by occlusion and diversion, that sudden flash of extreme, virulent fury otherwise known as road rage ... In his beguiling, energetic, razor-sharp prose, Durkee pinpoints the justified resentment and righteous indignation that fuels such behavior ... We all have a lot of anger these days, and for good reason. The question is what to do with that anger. Durkee, like any good novelist, doesn’t provide too many answers.
In The Last Taxi Driver, one would not, at first glance, assume an Elizabethan dramatic structure ... However, much of what makes Lee Durkee’s novel so delightful and surprising is his ability to dig beneath the surface of this funny, well-told odyssey, which channels a Shakespearean tragedy ... The Last Taxi Driver is more of a transcendental journey than a story-driven novel. There isn’t an absolute plotline, rather, most of the book details Lou’s experiences, observations, his past life, and how he’s arrived at this day that triggers a subtle transformation. As we cut into the marrow of his character, in an oddly effective move, we get closest to Lou by losing trust in him as he becomes unhinged. By removing his defenses, his humor and candor, we see who Lou really is, and what drives him. The result is Durkee’s cathartic achievement ... Durkee’s prose hits the right pitch. Told from Lou’s perspective, it’s a casual, voice-driven read with smart intimate humor.
The potential for violence lurks on every page and erupts in assaults sadly mundane and shockingly horrific. Yet the story of Lou, a taxi driver of rapidly disintegrating mental and physical health, has moments of the sublime ... In Lou, Durkee has created a fascinatingly complex character. The Last Taxi Driver is not a long novel and speeds along at a brisk pace. Each chapter is almost a distinct vignette, some better than others, but the book is cohesive and tied together well. Readers will easily find many metaphoric interpretations in the physicality of Lou’s driving, but Durkee is not really heavy-handed with them. There is humor here...but the novel is also deadly serious. Durkee tackles race and poverty, violence of many varieties, loss and longing, and the power of the imagination. Lou’s excruciating day will make readers cringe, and the recounting of his traumas is more than unsettling. This is a dark, feverish and weird tale that remains compelling throughout.