The Last Long Drop by Mike Safe

Stu Nettle
The Depth Test

An aging Hollywood heartthrob plans his last great film, the celluloid swansong that will stamp his legacy. Australian by birth, he splits his downtime surfing at Noosa, Malibu, or Fiji.

Meanwhile, after thirty years of service a middle-aged journalist is made redundant and now spends torpid days at the beach questioning his future. His bouts of introspection interrupted by conversations over egg and bacon rolls on the boardwalk and the odd surf session with mates.

The two central threads of Mike Safe’s latest novel, The Last Long Drop, connect when the actor, Mike Vargas, recruits the journalist, Johno Harcourt, to ghostwrite his biography, thereby kickstarting a spirited summertime novel where suspension of disbelief meets hard-boiled reality. Call it satire with lashings of truth, and plenty of surf scenes too.

Reality comes from knowing that author Mike Safe is a surfer - to his credit he keeps the language in house - and he was also let loose after a long career as a feature writer at The Weekend Australian. The disruption of modern media is cause for commentary in The Last Long Drop, and it’s not much of a stretch for the reader to imagine Safe walking down the beach wondering what thirty years of journalism experience counts for in the internet age.

His protagonist, Johno Harcourt, does exactly that, yet The Last Long Drop is less life imitating art and more an extended meta-reference. Dislodged from his profession, Safe parachutes himself into his semi-fictional world where a spurned journo gets a prize gig with a Hollywood megastar.

Early descriptions of Mike Vargas show him more as caricature than character; a Sydney surfer made good, mixing Hellenic charm and muscle he presents as an Antipodean Sylvester Stallone - popular at the box office yet snubbed by critics. It’s that last assessment that Vargas wants to correct before bowing out. He lines up the Hollywood money men to back his final knock-em-dead movie.

However, with Harcourt now on the scene, details of Vargas’ past life begin to emerge, the kinds of things you won't read on IMDb, it’s grist to a feature writer’s mill, the darkness that gives the portrait depth, yet it has potential to throw shade all over Vargas’ airbrushed image.

The early tempo, plus cover art and title, suggests The Last Long Drop to be an airport thriller, but instead Safe lays out an array of plotlines that progress in parallel, before concluding on a reef in the South Pacific, not with a bombastic showdown, but precise circularity.

The Last Long Drop is published by Impact Press and available here.

Comments

Haski's picture
Haski's picture
Haski commented Tuesday, 14 Nov 2017 at 4:44pm

I don't think he was spent much time out on the fringes of out back Australia with that name
lets hope then novel isn't used for toilet paper hahaha,,

Haski

geoffrey's picture
geoffrey's picture
geoffrey commented Saturday, 18 Nov 2017 at 10:05pm

S

Latest News

Watch: What is bodysurfing?

Stu Nettle

For a new crew of slab bodysurfers, simply pulling into a barrel isn't enough.

Watch: My Name Is John

Stu Nettle

Sinking in the ratings, soaring in the freesurfs.

Watch: Slater deconstructing his latest designs

Stu Nettle

"I confuse myself a lot," says Kelly Slater, "I ride a lot of different types of boards."

The men in the grey suits are back

Stu Nettle

Just when you thought it was safe to...you know, go back in the water.

Letty returns from injury for Sailor Jerry Surftag showdown

Letty Mortensen returns for NASA after three months out of the water.

Watch: Go Mad

Stu Nettle

31 years after mixing the original brew, Ross Clarke-Jones returns to share the Mad Wax formula.

Watch: Andy Irons: Kissed by God - Official Trailer

Ben Matson

Andy Irons: Kissed by God is a film about bipolar disorder and opioid addiction as seen through the life of three-time world champion surfer Andy Irons. 

Australian surfer Jae Haydon dies in Bali

Nicholas McLaren

The 35-year-old's body was found 12 hours after a broken board washed up last night near Padang Padang.

Latest Comments

indo-dreaming in Watch: What is bodysurfing? 2 min 51 sec ago
philosurphizingkerching in The men in the grey suits are back 12 min 35 sec ago
lost in Watch: My Name Is John 1 hour 5 min ago
thermalben in Great waves coming for both coasts 4 hours 10 min ago
truebluebasher in Watch: Go Mad 12 hours 54 min ago