Last Train Out is the second book published by Richard Boes, a Hudson Valley combat veteran whose earlier work, The Last Dead Soldier Left Alive, centered on the demons that took up residence in his skull in Vietnam and its immediate aftermath.
In Last Train Out, we’re on a later tour of duty, one that brings us into the landscapes one can share with those demons as life goes on: the church basements and walkups and sidewalks, the ironies of poverty, the full ashtray, the last sip of cold coffee.
Having stared death in the face so long ago, Boes’s semi-autobiographical protagonist is now facing cancer and in the throes of deep mourning for a woman he has loved. Life is a series of battles with doctors and bureaucracies, of repetitious actions: empty the trash, make the bed, breathe in, breathe out; sit in front of the computer, let your mind fly down the tracks, through dark tunnels and scenes of bleak degradation and breathtaking beauty.
Boes writes movingly of the world he sees: a vicious place, full of evil and inanity, and of hard-won instants of triumph and love. He is an astute observer of the mirror-image tragedies and struggles faced by women and men, lovers and warriors. Ground down to a nub, stripped of status and health and frills, remembering romance, he will make you laugh and cry, marvel, and wince. Don’t miss this train.