Synopses & Reviews
Thomas Mistler has always thought himself "a happy man, as the world goes." A scion of old money, he made his own fortune in advertising and is now poised to sell the company he founded for a fabulous price. But when a medical examination reveals the presence in his liver of a fatal intruder, "preposterously, unmistakably, he begins to rejoice," with a feeling of having been set free. But free from what?
He will seek the answer surreptitiously, without revealing his illness to his family, during a last reprieve, a moment of grace in "the one place on earth where nothing irritates him." But amidst the surreal beauties of Venice, he finds bitterness and chaos as he allows himself to drift for the first time. His halfhearted efforts to seize the day and its present pleasures--first with a striving young photographer and later with a love of his youth who never loved him--cannot compete with his need to commune with the living and the dead that crowd his life: his father and uncle, pillars of the Establishment, sources of the "genetic puritanism" he has never tried to resist; his son, Sam, whose love he has only barely salvaged; his wife, once perfectly "beautiful and suitable," now humiliated by him and half-scorned. And the one woman who embodies everything he might have wished for, a woman he "never had and never lost."
Deeply poignant yet mordantly funny, Mistler's Exit brilliantly discloses the pleasures and miseries of having it all. A masterly revelation of the complexities of the heart.
The acclaimed author of Wartime Lies (winner of the PEN/Hemingway Award) and About Schmidt (shortlisted for the National Book Critics Circle Award) gives us his most moving protagonist.
Thomas Mistler, Madison Avenue mogul, is going down without a fight. Perennially driven and presumably happy, he now faces a menacing blot on his liver with unaccountably joyous surrender. But before meeting his fate, he will seek a final reprieve in Venice, amid whose surreal beauties he allows himself to drift for the first time. His efforts to seize the day -- first with a striving young photographer and then with an unrequited love of his youth -- cannot compete with a growing need to commune with his memories of the living and the dead: the father and uncle whose "genetic puritanism" he has never found the strength to resist; the son whose love Mistler has only barely salvaged; his wife, once perfectly "beautiful and suitable", now a perfect stranger, whose life he knows he has mined. And then there is the only woman he ever truly loved, a woman he "never had and never lost".
A masterly revelation of the complexities of the heart.
About the Author
Louis Begley lives in New York City. His previous novels are Wartime Lies, The Man Who Was Late, As Max Saw It, and About Schmidt.