THE GRACEFUL EXIT by Rita Kashner

THE GRACEFUL EXIT

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KIRKUS REVIEW

The author's Bed Rest (1981), a wobbly suburban-housewife probe, and To the Tenth Generation (1984), a high-decibel, lowering saga set in Israel, do not prepare one for the hilarity of this genially black-humored tale about an innovative business called ""Great Events""--which offers an expensive, quite gorgeous, and creative method of knocking off loved ones. Why did realtor Caroline Mayhew, divorced, with a low-calorie love life, approach Margaret, a cool blonde (whose total look ""represented a major investment in quiet elegance""), for the services of Great Events, Margaret's brainchild? Seems that Caroline's beloved dad, Charlie, a golfing nut and an alcoholic of giant indulgence, has but a few short weeks left on earth. Great Events will supply not only a ""lifetime high"" (a.k.a. ""the Moment"") but a Graceful Exit. There follows a quiet, unnerving phone talk with the anonymous medico who will handle the Exit (""I don't suppose you take Master Card,"" says Caroline), and Charlie's route is planned: custom-made golf clubs in Texas; the fabled St. Andrews course, with a master caddie, in Scotland; dinner with a Duke and Duchess; and the major Moment--matching snort for snort of rare old whiskey with a bibulous Scot in a castle basement, ""right up until the End."" It turns out that Charlie's final flight will not carry that far--but by then Caroline will have joined Margaret as partner, helping, she thinks, to move other Loved Ones through the Golden Door. But what's this? Some Loved Ones are as healthy as horses! The awful truth: ""The woman isn't engaged in mercy killing; she's into pest removal."" Among intruders, clients, and ""Beneficiaries"": an avenging suicide who would videotape sex with a super-bunk--for a cheating lover; a patriotic gangster who's deterred from blowing away the girls and instead carves up a terrorist on national TV: ""Chip Charming"" from the IRS; and nice editor Sam, who with Caroline will do some frenzied detection on the waterfront. The jolly grue subsides toward the close, but it's mainly wisecracky fun. Great potential for a darkly silly summer movie.

Pub Date: Oct. 1st, 1989
Publisher: Atheneum