The Final Beast (1965)

Book Description

“The novel centers on a dazed clergyman. His wife dead in a senseless accident, Theodore Nicolet must persevere for the sake of his two young children.[…]The book opens with the bedraggled Nicolet, stretched taut by sorrow and puzzlement, hastening off in search of one of his parishioners, Rooney Vail, who has fled her husband, Clem, in apparent desperation at their failure to have children…Nicolet's flight is a pursuit of himself as much as a search for Rooney Vail. Here's another Buechner character trying to decipher the darkest mysteries and looking for something like happiness…Like virtually every major character in Buechner's books, Nicolet is trying to learn his own name and settle issues with a problematic father. The Final Beast deals openly with sexual infidelity, aging, guilt, failure, death, and the assorted baggage of the human condition.”
— W. Dale Brown, The Book of Buechner

“Buechner uses four-letter words, blunt sexual references, and near-blasphemy to convey what are basically reverential religious implications. It is as if he is trying to speak to contemporary man in language and imagery with which he is familiar so that Buechner might be heard.”
— Nancy Myers


“His novel is a minor masterpiece of wit and human understanding.”
— John Davenport, The Spectator

“This is a story that skates with daring skill and exuberant speed over the thin ice of potential blasphemy, sentimentality, and violence to emerge finally on the firm, smooth surface of honest faith and uproarious laughter.”
— Katherine Gauss Jackson, Harper’s Magazine

“Here is the rarest of the rare in contemporary fiction: a novel devoted to the celebration of faith and joy.  If you enjoy good fiction and stand within the Christian faith, a first reading of The Final Beast will give you pleasure and a second reading will enrich your faith.”
— Lee Whiston, United Church Herald

“Buechner has given us a beautifully written, sensitive novel in The Final Beast...Buechner is able to take this flagrantly Christian viewpoint, and still captivate the mind of the person who likely couldn't care less about this religion. Quite a feat.”
The Episcopalian