I’m in two minds about this book by Christopher Lude. Whilst on the one hand it is exceptionally well written and presented, and at times offers traces of poignancy, it also felt on the other to be something of a whimsical look at a particularly emotive subject, and one of huge controversy, particular in God-fearing countries like the States. It took me a while to come to the conclusion that this book is entirely fictional, as its introduction does appear to suggest otherwise; I am therefore assuming at this point that A Perfect Finish, the company created in this narrative, is not based on any real-life entity, but rather a mechanism for the author to convey the divisive nature of the subject of assisted dying. To be honest, it didn’t really seem to poke those controversial tender spots, instead focusing very heavily on the minutiae of business.
This is a long, very dialogue-driven book; indeed, if you stop paying attention for a moment, you’ll lose the thread of the conversation. But that doesn’t really matter too much, because the premise is a very simple one: a man finds himself building a business for a total stranger he helps in a road accident, out of duty to her dying wish – a company which sells adventurous send-offs for rich people in Canada, where the MAID law is in place. It is interesting to learn about Canada’s approach to assisted dying, and particularly the legal implications of applying this service to non-Canadian subjects (the services of APF being actively sold to American citizens). There is a huge amount of legal and business micro-debate; indeed, the character dialogue significantly tips the weight of this book – which, in my opinion, makes it feel a little overly long.
The overall tone of the book changes. In the opening scenes, it is poignant then, following this, as the book goes one, it feels like it moves from serious to slightly comedic in nature, as protagonist Steve meets an array of humorously quirky individuals from the Yukon Province, mostly First Nation, who all seem to have some interest or other in the business and/or the estate of the unfortunate crash victim. There seem to be quite a few people involved, and I have to be honest and admit that I wasn’t entirely sure what the roles of most of them were, in respect of their relation to the deceased and their involvement in the business idea. For me, the one element of the book which shone through most was greed; indeed, the figures they are talking about are eyebrow-raising, but this area didn’t really seem profoundly explored, with the exception of one journalist interview; in my opinion, corporate greed could and maybe should have been a key theme of the book and its premise.
In honesty, I felt the whole thing, though worth a read if you’re interested in the subject matter, felt a little disjointed. The “business plan” of the woman killed features quite heavily, but never feels explicitly shared. Like every other aspect of the book, it feels a little that we are putting pieces together from conversations, like a fly on the wall. But if you like long, talky, corporate nuanced books, then you might enjoy this one.
In : Book Reviews
Tags: chris-lude drama comedy poignant fiction assisted-dying