The Last Words of Leo Wekeman
Life and its shocking reality
Leo Wekeman, a journalist writing for a liberal newspaper, lays his experience and reputation on the line for a chance to interview the president of the United States, who is passing through the country. But Wekeman is in a bad way, after five years of marriage his wife is leaving him. Moreover, the editor-in-chief is much enamoured of the spunky new reporter Xavier Kingston, and gives the assignment to him.
Wekeman is determined to take revenge. He suggests to Xavier that they prepare the interview together. He gets Xavier drunk and spikes his drink. When Xavier fails to turn up the next morning, Wekeman stands in for him. But he makes a total mess of the interview. His wife’s sudden appearance, wanting to give their marriage another chance, is small consolation for this débâcle.
However, this story is just the background, a pretext for Petry to propound the reflections, opinions and analyses which, are the essence of the book. He reaches no firm conclusions, holds no unshakeable convictions: the world is too complex. This is why he chooses to examine the phenomena he describes from different standpoints: those of Wekeman himself, his wife, the editor-in-chief, Xavier Kingston, and finally Wekeman again.
At heart, Wekeman believes that many people today no longer see and interpret their everyday ‘reality’, opting instead for a superficial, unrealistic image of themselves and their surroundings. Petry then dissects in turn marriage, culture, power, truth and lies, personality and identity, domination and subjection, as well as love and sexuality which, he sees as conditioned by baseless morality. Nor does he shrink from attacking the icons of Christianity.
Throughout the book he writes with ambiguous gravity, a bold, often explicit style and, above all, a detachment at once critical and cynical, as he dissects life and lays bare its shocking reality.