The Opposite of Art: A Novel
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating

The Opposite of Art: A Novel

3.68 of 5 stars 3.68  ·  rating details  ·  110 ratings  ·  40 reviews
A great artist is cast into the icy Harlem River by a hit-and-run driver. His heart stops, and he sees something that defies description. Presumed dead by all who knew him and obsessed with the desire to paint the inexpressible, he embarks on a pilgrimage to seek help from holy men around the globe. But is it possible to see eternity without becoming lost within it? After...more
ebook, 384 pages
Published September 13th 2011 by Howard Books
more details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.
This book is not yet featured on Listopia. Add this book to your favorite list »

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 323)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  rating details
Lisa Murray
Merge Chaim Potok's Asher Lev with Ralph Ellison's invisible man to get a present yet absent, passionately artistic narrator searching for something ineffable. Place him in an ever-changing landscape with lush juxtapositions of the profound and the absurd that wander into whimsical magical realism. This is THE OPPOSITE OF ART.

While I was initially put off by Athol's brisk sentences and the self-absorbed, misogynistic narrator, by the end of the second chapter I couldn't put the book down. That...more
Dina Sleiman
Wow! This book has already been added to my favorites list. Very artistic and spiritual. This was food for my soul. Awesome. This book gets my highest possible recommendation.

It went on my must read list when Athol started talking about it on Novel Rocket. He predicted although probably his best book, it would also be his biggest commercial flop. Why? Well, in addition to being very “edgy” for the CBA market, in other words realistic, it’s also his most literary book.

So of course I had to have i...more
Amber Stokes
Magical realism and Christian fiction - The Opposite of Art shows that these are not mutually exclusive concepts! Strange and exaggerated - yet somehow familiar - elements abound in this unique and brightly painted canvas of a novel. Dickson's writing is beautiful with all of its symbolism and mystique, serving as a great candidate for meaningful discussion and contemplation.

Ridler, the world-renowned artist, is a man on a mission. His goal is to paint the Glory that he felt in the instant he wa...more
Yvonne Anderson
The title intrigues, causing us to think, to wonder. The opening line awakens our imagination.

The opening paragraph lets us know on no uncertain terms that we’re in the hands of an artist.

Perhaps the author is a little like the protagonist, Sheridan Ridler – a genius with oils whose search for the perfection of beauty drives his life. Though only in his twenties, he’s already making his mark on the art world. That is, until the winter’s night he’s thrown into the Harlem River by a hit-and-run dr...more
Andi Winterfield
Thanks to Goodreads First Reads and Howard Books for my ARC of Athol Dickson's The Opposite of Art. I absolutely loved reading this and could have easily finished it in a day, if life were not so busy! :) This is an incredible story of faith, hope, love and art that is extremely hard to put down. It's hard for me to find words for this book without giving something away to those who haven't read it. I would highly recommend it to anyone who is looking for a great read and I look forward to readi...more
Marion Hill
I just posted my latest book review on my blog:

Athol Dickson is becoming one of my favorite novelists and after reading The Opposite of Art continues enhanced that for me.

I think he is a descendant of Walker Percy, Graham Greene, and Flannery O'Connor in stretching the boundaries for Christian Fiction. I believe he deserves a wider audience outside of those genre ghetto walls.

"The Opposite of Art" by Athol Dickson is a splendid journey. To say too much in this space would be to rob potential readers of a quest through time, memory, and art against a backdrop of love and murder.

Content warning: Sensitive readers may find some content objectionable, although I would counter that it is included because it is objectionable and shows the spiritual distance the character must travel.

Highly recommended for readers desiring mold-breaking Christian literary fiction.
Greg Johnson
There are few authors who can both craft words with story to create a page turner that's amazing to read. Athol Dickson is just a master at putting a wonderful and redemptive story with paragraphs that stop you in your tracks. Another winner.
Noah Arsenault
I am astounded by this book. First, it really surprised me and made me really apprehensive. *Warning to readers* It has some inappropriate material in the beginning, but never re-occurs. Also, the main character, Sheridan Ridler, travels around the world, exploring religions from Buddhism to Judaism. This is not unlike Solomon's Biblical journey searching for something meaningful. He did many sinful things, indulged in many wrong acts, and found they were empty. Ridler eventually works his way t...more
The Opposite of Art
Anthol Dickson
Howard books

Artist Sheridan Ridler expresses himself in faceless art. In love with Suzanna, he is unable to verbalize how much she means to him. As a Christian she comes back to her relationship with Christ and realizes her relationship with “Danny” is unhealthy. He chases after her and ends up in Harlem. Attentive on his mission Danny doesn’t not see the car driven by his own agent Talbot, intentionally hit him and throw his lifeless body into the river.
Victor Gentile
Athol Dickson in his new book, "The Opposite Of Art" published by Howard Books brings us into the life of Sheridan Ridler, a master painter.

Before Athol Dickson became a master storyteller he was a master architect. It takes great creativity, imagination and "smarts" to design a building that will fit within the specified acreage and have all the required components and still be spectacularly beautiful. Now that Mr. Dickson tells stories he utilizes all the skills he developed in building buildi...more
Author: Athol Dickson
Publisher: Howard Books
September 2011
ISBN: 978-1-4165-8348-6
Genre: Inspirational/contemporary

Ridler loves one woman and one thing. The woman, Suzanna, is from Harlem, and knows she’s wrong being with Ridler, but she can’t stay away. Ridler loves painting and he is good at what he does. But he isn’t so good with money, so the man that shows his art is getting rich, robbing Ridler with every painting he sells.

It all falls apart when Suzanna decides s...more
If Jack Kerouac had been a Christian, I believe he would have written a story like The Opposite of Art. Long before I became a Christian I was a big fan of Kerouac’s work, but he just does not suit my tastes any more. I liked being able to read a Christian novel that had some edge to it with writing that was reminiscent of Kerouac without certain themes common in Kerouac’s books.

I was very quickly impressed by Athol Dickson’s writing and the way he developed this story. There were some places i...more
Clockstein Lockstein
The Opposite of Art by Athol Dickson is a thought-provoking look at art, faith, and love. Sheridan Ridler is a great artist, and unfortunately, he knows it. He views the world as created for him and lives only for his art. When his girlfriend Suzanna walks out on him because he refuses to respect her faith, Ridler follows her into the night. During the chase, he is captivated by the image of a building in flames and begins to run to see the image better in order to capture it. But while Ridler c...more
Rene Spector Johnson
Wow, excellent! The story is creative and original, the writing is rich and intriguing and the characters were each complicated and real. From the first chapter, I was drawn in and committed. Most importantly, this book got me thinking, philosophizing and feeling my faith...what a truly amazing surprise from a book I only picked up because of the title! :-)

Ridler's great search, need to possess and missing the point all together has been written before, but the pieces of magic thrown in on the s...more
Amazing! -- So I must say I was blown away by this novel. My first Athol Dickson. I really liked the descriptions, but then the cover wasn't much, so I didn't pick it up for forever. But I did. Yesterday, 12 hours ago. And haven't been able to put it down except to do a few life chores!

Now I am in no way, shape or form really one to say really literal things about books. Deep, me not so much. This book is not to be read lightly, just skimming through. You will want to read, ingest, reread each s...more
First of all, what a great cover. If you cannot tell, it is the back of a canvas piece of artwork. I didn't pay much attention to it when I first got the book, but when I finally looked at it, I thought it was really clever!
In the book, Sheridan Ridler is a brilliant artist whose life is cut short too early, or at least that is what the world thinks. When Ridler is thrown into the Hudson River, everyone thinks that there is no way he could survive; but he does survive. He just disappears. Over t...more
As I said before, this book was not what I expected. Coming from my mother, I knew it would be a Christian novel. As I glanced, for once, at another review, I would have to agree that it certainly doesn't read like a Christian book especially in the first chapter (if not a few of the chapters following). It hits its stride slowly...yeah, slowly.

I cannot say I was in love with this book, but I wanted to finish. I did want to know how it ended. That seems a compliment to any author that something...more
Mary Ann
Ok... first off, I'd have to say that I struggled with the idea of this book being a 'christian' book. Within the first few pages I found myself debating if I should keep reading. Obviously, I did. I committed to review it... so I continued. It certainly isn't your typical christain novel, but it does accurately portray a person in search of Someone greater than himself. It is true to real life... none of us get 'prettied up' before we are saved and many of us will delve into a myriad of things...more
There are books that strive to hit a deeper chord, and it can be a difficult thing to achieve when you're struggling to convey in so many words the complexity of humans. Athol Dickson take on the task of showing the intricate way a man's mind works after losing love, and seeking faith.
A man who is supposedly been declared dead is still alive, but has disappeared in a search for faith. His lover from the past, and an old friend receive messages supposedly from him that lead them in a search for...more
An arrogant, unpleasant artist has a vision that changes him forever, causing him to seek the Glory (what he saw and wants to paint) in various places all over the world and in different religious groups: Buddhism, Sufism, Judaism, etc. He ends up traveling with a circus, constantly annoyed by his inability to recreate what he saw. I found the attempts to describe the vision and subsequent paintings very amusing: lots of vague words that just swirled around like the fictitious art. The writing f...more
Normandie Fischer
Powerful story, written beautifully. I love Athol's imagery, his word pictures, the deep soul-digging of his characters. I think--no, I know--that he is my favorite contemporary author. When a book pulls me in, won't let me go, and forces me to change in some elemental way--even if that change is merely to ratchet up my appreciation of some word or vision or moment--then it carries seeds of greatness.

Thank you, Athol Dickson, for another few hours of blessing.
This was a really interesting novel, especially because I believe it's in the Christian fiction genre, but so different from all the others! Very creative as far as the plot goes, and amazing language throughout. I loved the writing itself, the symbolism in the story, and the core theme. It was, however, a little too artistic for my taste. You really gotta love art to get everything out of this book.
Margo Berendsen
This was just a case of different tastes. I could recognize the elegant, off-beat, strong writing, but it didn't connect with me. While I didn't finish, I did read enough to feel the tug of the Glory, and stories where souls are searching for meaning and truth (as I did myself) are so important, because I believe everyone at sometime in their life is searching.
The idea of the story especially intrigued me. I love ideas that are new to me and instrospective. I could even feel some of the "glory" moments.
Alas, I did find myself wanting to put the book down several times. The ending, though satisfactory, felt rather short given the long journey searching for an end.
Nov 13, 2011 Yogilee rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Anyone interested in spiritual quest and art
This is a meaty book. I was drawn to it for art, but the spiritual journey is what really pulled me in deeper. I love the topic of "Glory." I would have rated this a 5 star if the main character had made a little better use of his gift...however, as humans, we are allowed to go our own paths...
Oh, the poverty of self-awareness! (my walk away)

enjoyed reading this book....I couldn't quit reading it wanting to know if Ridler found the "glory" but found it unsettling too. Felt nostalgic? contemplative? unsettled? skimmed some of dialogue trying to "know what happened".

This book is beautiful. There is a complexity on both factual and emotional levels that give an incredible depth to the content. I would recommend this not only to those interested in art, but to any who search for something not quite definable.
Can see why Scott Bothee loved it. Complicated, many characters to keep track of and makes you think. Only loved it when I finished. :)
Ruth Hamel
Unexpected and a few parts I confess I didn't "get" but very well written. And a great lesson about God and His Glory.
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
Athol Dickson's parents were living on the road when he was born. His first bed was a drawer lined with towels in a travel trailer. He has loved road trips ever since. Boating is a passion, too. Athol owns three boats, and once lived aboard a yacht full-time while cruising the Gulf of Mexico and the USA's Atlantic coast. But Athol's nine novels are proof he can sit still and write if he's with his...more
More about Athol Dickson...
River Rising Winter Haven The Cure They Shall See God (Moving Fiction) The Gospel According to Moses: What My Jewish Friends Taught Me about Jesus

Share This Book