By Louis Begley
(Ballantine Books, Paperback, 9780449004227, 224pp.)
Publication Date: November 1999
List Price: $12.95*
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A self-made New Yorker well into his middle age, Thomas Mistler has long been a lion of Madison Avenue's powerful advertising world. Now, poised to sell his company for a luxurious sum, Mistler receives alarming news: He has only months to live. But his reaction is not what one would expect. Rather than hysteria, Mistler experiences a sense of clarity and a feeling of being set free. From what, he is unsure. In a decision that breaks the mold of his superbly organized routine, Mistler conceals his illness from his family and seeks a moment of grace to be savored alone in the decadent splendor of Venice. There, he meets a young, lustful photographer and, later, a love from his youth. But his attempts to recapture passion only magnify the reconciliations he has yet to make--with the father to whom he sacrificed his own dreams, the son with whom he has never truly accepted, and the wife to whom he has given everything but respect.
A startling blend of grace and satire, Mistler's Exit is charged with unexpected moments of beauty and eroticism, pathos and humor. Like the city of Venice itself, it is a creation of timeless appeal.