Tosh McIntosh's Reviews > A Dignified Exit

A Dignified Exit by John J. Asher
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Dec 24, 2011

it was amazing
bookshelves: currently-reading
Read from December 24 to 29, 2011 — I own a copy

I generally read commercial fiction, mysteries and thrillers for the most part, so it's a rare day that a book like John J. Asher's 'A Dignified Exit' finds its way onto my book shelves. And to provide full disclosure, the author is a friend of mine for whom I have the greatest respect as a writer and artist.

Before purchasing the paperback edition, I'd read bits and pieces, including a broad overview as I helped format his manuscript for an eBook. And it is safe to say that nothing in those "snacks" could have prepared me for sitting down to the full meal.

I'm currently less than 100 pages into the book, and back on page one I would have never predicted the smooth and effortless way Asher manages to maneuver his way past my mystery/thriller bias with the character of Monroe Colson. No action heroes here, only a flawed man, with poignant backstory aplenty, who in essence dares me not to engage with him on a journey to a dignified exit.

This review is a work in progress, and I will return to it soon as I continue to explore this marvelous book.

Update: I am now halfway through the book. Asher is holding this "thriller guy's" interest in spite of the languid pacing, which, like the setting (Mexico), has a siesta quality that I would normally find boring and reason enough to put the book down for good.

He does it with a style rich in detail, and which engages all the senses. His descriptions of the scenery, sounds, aromas, characters, and situations flow from the mind of an artist and paint a word picture that comes alive on the page.

But the truly remarkable element of this novel for me is the way in which Asher intersects the lives of Monroe Colson and Angelina Farretti. I might have initially likened the challenge to the futility of mixing water and oil, but he succeeds with a skillful crafting of scenes that leave me with conflicting emotional involvement in the story and its characters.

I know where this is going, but I very much want events to reverse course, or at least change direction. It's almost if I expect something impossible to happen. To make it an easier story to read. To leave me less involved so I don't care as much. In other words, to write the story the way I might.

Asher flinches not from his vision, of course, and dares me to put his novel down. And if the truth be told, he probably knows I won't.

Update: I finished the book last night. As the pages-to-go thinned within my right hand, I dreaded what I knew was coming, knew it would be painful, and yet something within me held out for a ray of hope that I'd be wrong.

No spoilers here in closing, just that Asher left me with a profound sense of bittersweet, a combination of sadness and hope, as if experiencing a sunset and a new dawn at the same moment.

For what it's worth, this thriller guy highly recommends 'A Dignified Exit' as a beautifully crafted, moving story that tugs the heartstrings in multiple directions at once.
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