The Last Gas Station and Other Stories

Tom Clark’s collection of short fiction, The Last Gas Station, is in two contrasting parts. It opens with 23 very short prose pieces––amusingly surreal California vignettes, some no longer than a page, peopled by denim-clad cowgirls, itinerant lover boys, Martin Heidegger, Boris Pasternak, Muslim college students, Vietnam vets, Ty Cobb, Ted Berrigan, and a great dinosaur poet of the Jurassic period. These are followed by the novella “Incident at Basecamp,” an odd matter-of-fact account of a close encounter between a young married couple and a spindly, three-toed, mind-reading extraterrestrial somewhere deep in the Rocky Mountain wilderness.

Clark is versatile, a poet turned sportswriter turned novelist” whose range is brilliantly showcased by this substantial collection. The opening sketches are playful and delightful, but “in the tradition of ‘biggest is best,’ The Last Gas Station closes with a wallop: ‘Incident at Basecamp’ [is] a sturdy science-fiction novelette.
Los Angeles Times

Tom Clark was the poetry editor of The Paris Review from 1963 to 1973, one of the prestigious journal’s most important decades. He published his own collections of poetry exclusively with Black Sparrow Press. His numerous literary essays and reviews have appeared in publications  including The New York Times, London Review of Books, and the San Francisco Chronicle, among others. He has also published six biographies of twentieth-century literary figures. Clark died in Berkeley, California, in 2018.