The Opposite of Art    -     By: Athol Dickson
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The Opposite of Art

Howard Books / 2011 / Paperback

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Product Description

A poor woman in a shabby Los Angeles apartment receives an original oil painting by one of modern art's great masters, easily worth half a million dollars. Although the artist has been dead for a quarter century, the painting appears to have been recently completed. When the world's foremost authority on the artist's work pronounces it authentic, three lives are destined to collide: the sketch artist and roustabout at a traveling Mexican circus who longs to paint the face of God, the daughter the sketch artist does not know he has, and the man who plans to kill them both.

Product Information

Format: Paperback
Number of Pages: 384
Vendor: Howard Books
Publication Date: 2011
Dimensions: 8.44 X 5.50 (inches)
ISBN: 1416583483
ISBN-13: 9781416583486

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Publisher's Description

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 a quarter of a century, when the world begins to whisper that he may be alive, two people come looking for the artist: the daughter he never knew existed, and the murderer who hit him on the bridge all those years ago.

Author Bio

Athol Dickson is the publisher of the popular news website,, and the author of seven novels and the bestselling memoir, The Gospel according to Moses. His novels of suspense and magical realism have been honored with three Christy Awards and an Audie Award, and compared to the work of Octavia Butler (by Publisher’s Weekly) and Flannery O’Connor (by The New York Times). He and his wife live in Southern California.

Athol Dickson's The Opposite of Art is written the way a picture is painted. There are highlights and subdued lights. There is composition. There are details that add up to make story – and a message for those willing to see it.

After a near-death experience reveals to him something he calls "the Glory," master painter Sheridan Ridler spends his life trying to find it again. As he travels, searching for a worldview that can give him answers, he slowly comes to grips with his own selfishness and acknowledges that the glory of God is greater than he can paint.

In describing Ridler's journey, Dickson does not shy away from portraying the dark points of humanity. People are beaten, bombs go off, innocence is lost, and all the brokenness of the world is revealed in full force. However, these conditions and circumstances aren’t dwelt on as the point of the story; they are the shadows that contrast with the highlights in the painting. Different world religions get a compelling look from an artist's perspective. In the end, Ridler's redemption is the picture that sends another lost soul searching.

Dickson has created a beautifully wrought story. It is majestic as art is majestic, with light and shadows coming together to create a unified image. It also shows truth as art tells truth – to some, it will be picture of the wonder of God, but to others, it will miss the mark. The story ends on such an abstract note that some people will be unsatisfied with the picture they've been painted. Ridler's soul searching continually points him to the higher glory of God, but Christianity as we know it isn’t definitively described. That does not mean it is not there to be found, but some will be disappointed with the ambiguity.

The Opposite of Art is an intriguing story, its light and darkness together forming a picture that reflects truth but only as art reflects truth. The reader is left in many ways to draw his or her own conclusions. This book isn't for children, but I personally enjoyed its almost fantastical storytelling and its portraits of people and places that solidly reflect the problems with the world's attempts to construct God. Ridler's search represents the world's need for Him, and it echoes Moses' words in Exodus 33:18: "And he said, 'Please, show me Your glory.'" Kacey Heinlein,

Editorial Reviews

"Dickson's writing paints glorious pictures of each exotic locale, while weaving a most compelling story that includes elements of religion, art, murder, and redemption. Highly recommended read to lovers of art and suspense. Completely enjoyable."
"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!"

Product Reviews

4.2 Stars Out Of 5
4.2 out of 5
4 out Of 5
(4 out of 5)
3.8 out Of 5
(3.8 out of 5)
Meets Expectations:
3.8 out Of 5
(3.8 out of 5)
of customers would recommend this product to a friend.
Displaying items 1-5 of 5
Page 1 of 1
  1. 5 Stars Out Of 5
    Wondrous to behold
    November 26, 2011
    Quality: 5
    Value: 5
    Meets Expectations: 5
    Ridler is an artist destined to rise in prominence in the art world, but his self-centered quest to create art leaves broken hearts and bruised egos in his wake. When a hit-and-run driver sends Ridler over the edge of a bridge into Harlem River, he miraculously awakens on it's banks having had an encounter with Glory. He is desperate to paint what he saw, but the image is lost from his mind before he is able to do so. What follows is a journey to exotic locale to attempt to again find the Glory, from releasing doves at a Buddhist temple in Thailand to seeking the divine in Rome. When his journey brings him back to North America, his attempt to reconcile the wrongs in his past prompts a search for Ridler, previously presumed dead, both by a daughter he never knew, and a man bent on murder.

    Athol Dickson has written a powerful, engaging story that will long stay on my mind. It is the type of story where I came to the end of the book and simply had to sit and process the emotions the novel had stirred.

    Reading The Opposite of Art was like listening to a complex piece of music or being held captive by a painting. Dickson is truly an expert with the pen, and the result is scenes full of vivid detail and characters that are mesmerizing, unique, larger than life. The whole host of characters introduced, from Ridler himself to his love, Suzanne, to the strange and wonderful circus folk, are all absolutely fascinating in their differences and their similarities, fellow pilgrims on the journey of life. I should caution that some readers may find the book to have a slower pace because of the detail included, but I personally felt that the story held my interest from start to finish.

    The novel is so much more than suspense, so much more than a simple search for truth, so much more than broken families being made whole. Dickson has courageously explored the meaning of life through Ridler's desperate search, and brilliantly illuminates the power of Jesus against the back drop of the emptiness of other religions, and the emptiness of ourselves. When Ridler comes to the end of himself and finally finds Glory, it is wonderous to behold.

    Readers who enjoyed Dickson's previous works will greatly enjoy this latest offering. I strongly recommend this book and give it 5 out of 5 stars.

    Book has been provided courtesy of Howard Books, a division of Simon & Schuster, for the purposes of this unbiased review. Available for purchase wherever good books are sold.
  2. Minnesota
    Age: 45-54
    Gender: female
    1 Stars Out Of 5
    Not the Book I thought I was getting
    November 8, 2011
    Marya Rud
    Age: 45-54
    Gender: female
    Quality: 1
    Value: 1
    Meets Expectations: 1
    Storyline is very confusing.Not sure who is really saying what.Storyline diffcult to follow. Storyline does not stsy in the christian relam. Book is very different than description in the catalog. Not sure why Christian Book Distrubitor is even selling it.
  3. Roxboro, NC
    Age: 25-34
    Gender: female
    5 Stars Out Of 5
    Not your typical Christian fiction!
    November 2, 2011
    Roxboro, NC
    Age: 25-34
    Gender: female
    Quality: 5
    Value: 4
    Meets Expectations: 4
    Sheridan Ridler is an artist beyond compare, but after being knocked off a New York City bridge one winter night, he envisions something beyond the bowls of fruit and nudes that he typically paints. Although presumed dead by everyone who knows him, Ridler sets off on a journey to recreate his vision on canvas and seeks out the holiest places on earth. His perilous adventures teach him much, yet others begin to believe that he could be alive and thus the hunt for the world-famous painter begins. Will he ever find the truth - and succeed in painting "The Glory?"

    The Opposite of Art is a unique work of art itself. Dickson's advanced vocabulary and artistic sentence structure rank this book far above your typical contemporary American novel. Far and away more honest than many Christian fiction books, Dickson's work showcases one man's search for the beautiful and the holy; ultimately, Ridler is searching for meaning in this fallen world.

    In a creative, well-researched way, Dickson knocks holes into the theories of most major world religions through Ridler's story. Ridler's experiences display why Buddhism and Islam cannot be true; however, I was disappointed to see his story end too soon. While Ridler found the truth, a more complete explanation of his metamorphosis could be helpful to readers possessing those same questions.

    I received a free copy of The Opposite of Art from Howard Books in exchange for an honest review.
  4. 5 Stars Out Of 5
    Captivating and thought-provoking novel
    October 25, 2011
    Christy Lockstein
    Quality: 5
    Value: 5
    Meets Expectations: 5
    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.
  5. 5 Stars Out Of 5
    September 21, 2011
    I had the privilege of endorsing this wonderful book, but that was weeks ago. I want to add something to my endorsement. 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 CBD customers to know.
Displaying items 1-5 of 5
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