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With The Opposite of Art, three-time Christy Award winner Athol Dickson delivers a compelling tale of reconciliation and redemption. The discovery of a painting signed by a renowned artist—dead for 25 years—causes quite a stir when it seems to be recently completed. After the world's foremost expert pronounces it authentic, three lives are destined to collide: a circus sketch artist longing to paint God's face, the daughter he never knew, and the man plotting to kill them both....
With The Opposite of Art, three-time Christy Award winner Athol Dickson delivers a compelling tale of reconciliation and redemption. The discovery of a painting signed by a renowned artist—dead for 25 years—causes quite a stir when it seems to be recently completed. After the world's foremost expert pronounces it authentic, three lives are destined to collide: a circus sketch artist longing to paint God's face, the daughter he never knew, and the man plotting to kill them both.
“Exquisitely written, meticulously researched, and richly detailed, Athol Dickson's The Opposite of Art is a fascinating and magical journey into the worlds of art and faith, murder and intrigue.”
“After reading the first chapter, I felt an overwhelming need to know what happened next. Forget the ringing phone, never mind dinner, tell the children to pipe down—I had to keep reading. And I discovered that powerful opening was followed by a fully-developed story satisfying in every way. The Opposite of Art is a beautiful novel.”
“The Opposite of Art draws the reader in a way seldom accomplished in a novel. A powerful, moving story of reconciliation and redemption. Dickson has written another page-turner.”
“Masterful imagery, unforgettable characters, and a compelling journey in search of answers to the fundamental questions of life. A book to be savored, themes to be discussed with friends, and a story to treasure for years to come.”
“The Opposite of Art is classic Athol Dickson: a powerful, well-crafted story with thoughtful symbolism and deep resonance. A masterpiece! Dickson had better clear a shelf for all the awards this book will win.”
“Dickson’s novel shimmers on the page like a work of art itself, inviting readers to step beyond the evocative prose into the deeper truths within its pages. At once suspenseful and captivating, The Opposite of Art is impossible to put down and impossible to forget."
“The Opposite of Art is mesmerizing, intriguing, and inspiring; a story that stays with you long after the last page."
“Athol's passionate, lyrical storytelling reminds me a bit of Salman Rushdie's Shalimar the Clown. Sheridan Ridler's artistic search for Glory is a journey into hope, and I'm profoundly grateful for the privilege of going along.”
“The Opposite of Art pulled me in from the first page and held me captive. Characters that are richly drawn, a plot that twists and turns. What a stunning read!”
Excerpt from The Opposite of Art, Chapter 14:
As he had beneath the Sistine ceiling, Ridler paced the sidewalk. Back and forth beside the looming ramparts, he paced. All the years swirled through his mind, the cost of jungles, beaches, filthy alleys and bazaars, tortured and exploded, hungry, parched, lonely and alone, and of course Suzanna. Suzanna lost forever. He had surrendered everything to paint the Glory, trying it a thousand times, a thousand ways, miles of paint, gallons of it flowing across canvas by the acre. What were these imposters’ feeble efforts compared to sacrifice like his?
“I’ll show them,” he muttered, dropping to his knees and opening his backpack. “I’ll show them.”
Removing his kit he spilled his pastels out onto the sidewalk. Still muttering, he selected a piece of chalk and began to sketch. His arm swung broadly over the pavement, a giant motion from the shoulder. Line after sweeping, monumental line arched across the slates around him. He was no mere artist. He was an athlete, a zealot and a warrior. He was no propagandist. He was a partisan, a dogmatist in possession of all truth. He alone could show the Glory to the world, and he alone would do it.
Driven by his rage and his disdain, Ridler lost all consciousness of his surroundings. He did not see the crowd gathering about him as his colors rose from the pavement to the ancient ramparts of the Holy See. He did not hear their whispers, nor their gasps and exclamations as the image swelled and spread. He climbed the wall with only fingertips and the narrow edges of his boots, clinging to the bricks stacked earthy and steadfast for generations. Halfway up he released his hold and drifted. Gripping colored chalk in both of his hands, he drew with unerring beauty and precision on his left and right at once, a whirlwind of pristine intention, filling empty voids as if he was a witch conjuring a portal to a future or a past. He almost had it now. This time he would hold it fast. He would draw back the veil. He would reveal the Glory. He would not let it go. He would master everything.
Ridler drew among a cloud of witnesses. No carabinieri stepped forward from that growing crowd to protest on behalf of public property. On the contrary, the police in their white belts and chest straps stood entranced along with bankers and tourists, priests and beggars. Dozens of them turned to hundreds; hundreds turned to thousands. From the street and sidewalk, from the windows, balconies, and rooftops, all of Rome observed in breathless silence.
It never crossed the artist’s mind that he might run out of colors. Again and again he pulled more pastels from his pack, never realizing it had become a cornucopia, endlessly fertile, providing everything required. Nothing was withheld. The sun itself beyond the angry clouds did not betray him. On the contrary, it remained aloft long past the normal hour, granting the suspension of time. Even gravity and space surrendered, all created things in all directions bowing in submission to his genius.
In the end it seemed the only limit was himself, for when he stopped it was his own decision. Hands and arms and clothing choked with color, Ridler sat back on his haunches. At that very moment the sun began to move again above the clouds, but it took a while to regain its usual velocity. And like the fading of the day, Ridler’s own return was gradual, a slow recognition of the image spread out all around him. Shadows gathering, he gazed upon the work.
It covered half a block along the sidewalk. It climbed forty feet up the wall. It was of course his grandest effort, superior to anything that Rome had ever seen. Thousands knelt around the fringes, hands clasped at their chins, palms turned up toward heaven. Their whispered prayers combined and interlaced in midair, flowing hot across his face. Their adoration of the image plucked him to his feet as if he were a puppet pulled by strings. He disappeared into them, staggering with painful joints, fleeing yet another failure, for he was well aware that this was merely one more flawed beginning. As he had so many times before, he had reached the end of Ridler without capturing the Glory.
Posted December 13, 2012
Posted September 7, 2012
This story is so beautifully written that it actually sparks your own Muse into creating something ... glorious. Athol has a way of painting with words, and the actions in the story become so visual, so alive, you find yourself lost in this story the way the characters get lost in Ridler's paintings. It envelopes all the emotions and passion an artist feels when trying to express the urgency within. It is allegorical and poetic, while at the same time telling a great suspense story!Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted February 12, 2012
Wow! This book has already been added to my favorites list. The only question remaining is if it will leap to #1 on that list. Very artistic and spiritual. This was food for my soul. I kept having to pause just to reflect on what I read. Sheridan Ridler's artistic passion and quest for the "glory" truly spoke to me. The journey was incredible and the ending beautiful. I feel so blessed to have read it. Awesome. This book gets my highest possible recommendation.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted October 27, 2011
As I begin to read this book was so interesting. As I like to paint myself I could see where Ridler was going as he got so interesting into his painting that is all he wanted to do. He was interested in Suzanne but didn't want to marry anyone, as she left he ran after her but could not find her as she went down into Harlem. The taxi driver would not take him any futher when he found out Ridler had left his wallet at home. He got out and made Ridler get out right where he was.
As he climbed over a fence and got on a bridge that was being worked on a car came alone and knocked him off the bridge and they though he was dead as no one could stand that fall into the cold river. But Ridler did and hurt and sore started down the river.
He really didn't know where he was but came upon some young men using spray paint on a wall and he grabed some of the paint and started to paint himself. The youth could not believe the way he was painting the wall so they just stood back and let him paint, He covered the wall and it was so good.
This book has a little of everything in it, Some suspence, romance and just an interesting book. I want to thank Glass Roads for sending me this book to review,
Posted October 26, 2011
I Also Recommend:
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 buildings to build stories for us.
Sheridan Ridler, master painter, was also a selfish drug-user until a hit-and-run plunged him into the Harlem River. For several minutes, Ridler's heart stopped beating. While he lay dead, he saw a beauty that for the next twenty-five years he'd wandered the globe trying to capture on canvas. His daughter, Gemma, who he did not know he had, when she heard he might still be alive, begins an active search for him. Gemma is not alone in her search. The man who thought he killed Ridler twenty-five years ago is also looking for him and this time he intends to make sure he succeeds.
When Athol Dickson tells a story he builds it like an architect, start with the foundation and then each floor goes up methodically after the previous floor has been built. When we finish an Athol Dickson novel we are left with a hugely satisfying sigh because we have enjoyed ourselves immensely. But "The Opposite Of Art" also has beautiful themes such as can a person change? What is the importance of a father to a daughter? and the wonder of family. "The Opposite Of Art" is an amazingly beautiful story of how God can take our hurts and turn the bad into things that are good. I liked this book and recommend this highly!
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Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Glass Road Public Relations. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255 : "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."
Posted October 25, 2011
The Opposite of Art
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.
Sheridan awakes after being unconscious on the bank of the river, after basically being dead, and see the Glory of God before him.
He never realizes he was hit by a car, let alone by Talbot. Pronounced dead by the world, Ridler paintings skyrocket in value.
Ridler having seen what he calls "Glory" seeks out on a pilgrimage to find Glory again and paint it. Over the years he ends up in a variety of countries, trying to find it within Buddhism, Islam and Judaism and Christianity. All in search of the Glory he saw that he cannot shake.
Excellent descriptions of different religions and how Sheridan was unable to find the Glory in them until he found the True God. It got a little dry for me at times, not as fast paced as I like. Artists will appreciate Sheridan and his internal struggles. Beautiful Ending.
I received a copy of this novel from Glass Road in exchange for an honest review
Posted October 25, 2011
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.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted October 19, 2011
This book is both a literary triumph and a deeply moving statement of faith. The main character is Sheridan Ridler, the greatest painter of his age. He is also, to begin with, a total jerk. Promiscuous, substance-abusing, utterly self-centered, he paints almost exclusively nude women but never paints their faces, because the paintings are not about them--they're about him. When he gets knocked into a river early in the book, you can't help but think he deserves it.
But then the miracle happens. He survives. Or, more precisely, he comes back to life after being drowned. And in the river he has had a vision--a vision of God, or in his terms, the Glory. Possessed by this vision, which fades almost immediately, Ridler disappears from his former life, leaving everyone to suppose him dead. He begins to travel the world in search of a way to recapture his vision so he can paint it adequately. Meanwhile, he can paint nothing else.
I can't give you any more of the plot without spoiling too much. But I promise you will be riveted through all 384 pages, and you will find the ending as deeply satisfying as anything you've ever read.
And on top of all this, Dickson writes beautifully. His characters are unique and compelling, from the initially unsympathetic hero to the extraordinary villain to the smallest bit player. His settings, which span the globe, are realized down to the smallest sensory detail. If you can't afford to travel around the world, just read this book.
I bought the ebook, which I regret because I'd love to share this book with all my friends.
Posted September 21, 2011
I had the privilege of endorsing this wonderful book, but that was weeks ago. I want to add something to my endorsements. In a sea of books I've read in recent weeks, the imagery and the ideas inspired by The Opposite of Art continue to come to mind. I'm still thinking about this book. That says something about the rare joy it gave me to read it, and I wanted Barnes and Noble customers to know.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted September 13, 2011
The Opposite of Art. The title intrigues, causing us to think, to wonder.
Sirens called him from his dreams. 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 driver, and his body is never found.
During his near-death experience, he catches a glimpse of an indescribable beauty, and emerges from the river obsessed with the desire to recreate the Glory in whatever medium he can get his hands on. But it's too marvelous; he can't attain it. Just when he thinks he's getting it, he realizes he can't approach it. Not sure what's happened to him, nor even, at first, who he is, he wanders in search of answers. But mostly, in search of the Glory.
Ridler leads the reader on a quest around the world as he seeks help from holy men, traveling from New York to the jungles of Thailand, the bazaars of Istanbul, the desert city of Tel Aviv, the Eternal City of Rome, a massive shrine in Mexico, and finally, to a traveling circus in New Mexico. Wherever his foot falls, he reaches for the Glory, to capture and enshrine it in paint; but in every place he seeks it, it's just beyond his grasp.
Throughout his quarter-century pilgrimage, he's unaware that he has a daughter-and she's unaware that he, the father she never knew but has always idolized, is alive. When fresh Ridler look-alike paintings start showing up, received in the mail by various people whom the artist had formerly known and wronged, she goes on a quest of her own: to find the source of these mysterious new works. She doesn't know that the man who deliberately knocked Ridler off the bridge twenty-five years ago is pursuing him too. And they're both gaining on him.
It's a magnificent tale, rich in symbolism and allegory yet a good story in its own right. If the book weren't so thick (paperbound, 384 pages long), I'd want to frame it.