The Exit Man by Greg Levin
Greg Levin seems to channel his humor vicariously through Eli Edelmann, his sardonic and quick-witted protagonist in The Exit Man. Eli, a little jaded and a lot fed up with his current position running the family party store Jubilee, has his life quickly changed when he is approached by Sergeant Rush, an old friend of his father who makes of him an unusual request. It seems Mr. Edelmann, recently dead of terminal cancer, failed to come through on a final promise: a promise to help Mr. Rush, who is suffering from severe emphysema, to die. It is to be a death by helium, an apparently painless way to go. Who better to ask than the guy who runs the party store? And so, after briefly battling with the more obvious legal and moral implications, Eli fulfills the old man’s request…but he doesn’t stop there. Instead, he becomes the Exit Man, a self proclaimed hero helping the terminally ill to go out with dignity. Of course, there’s inevitably a girl and a little bit of intrigue, too.
Levin presents us with a very interesting, complex concept, rich with potential for insight and good social commentary. Much of the prose acts as Eli’s stream of consciousness as he consistently battles the psychological effects of his new past time. There are many points on the page that generate genuine laugh out loud humor. The story moves quickly, running through most of the predictable conflicts. The lengthy, rambling dialogue and underdeveloped characters ultimately leave the reader wanting and a little weary. Still the topic, despite its canned presentation, is novel enough to act as a light read.
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