Clockstein Lockstein's Reviews > The Opposite of Art: A Novel

The Opposite of Art by Athol Dickson
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Oct 25, 11


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 chases Suzanna, someone else chases him, and as he crosses the bridge, his pursuer takes the opportunity to hit him with a car, knocking Ridler into the river below. When Ridler emerges from the water, he is desperate to regain the image of Glory he witnessed, and he begins a twenty-year quest chasing it around the globe. He travels from one holy place to another in hopes of capturing this Glory and making it his, but the harder he tries to grasp it, the more elusive it becomes. Finally after twenty-five years, word slips out to the world that Ridler is alive, and his daughter Gemma tries to track him down, but the man who murdered him desires for him to stay dead, so once again while Ridler chases his art, he is pursued. The novel is impossible to classify into genre; it is literary, suspenseful, and romantic. Dickson fills his novel with grotesque characters similar to Flannery O'Connor, and the story is written at times almost like a fairy tale. It feels like a story birthed in the oral tradition of storytelling with a sense of fantasy mixed with realism that makes it impossible to know whether it is true. But it feels true, because Dickson has captured such powerful and real emotions, like the tortured thoughts of a woman first meeting her father. This is a beautifully told story that will captivate readers' senses while making them consider the lesson Ridler finally learns as well.
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