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Millard Salter’s Last Day: a sad romanticism about life and ending it


A few years back I read a collection of short stories by Jacob M Appel and was surprised by how much I enjoyed it. I get annoyed by short stories because they spit shine and pretty up a series of scenarios which end immediately after getting good, leaving me annoyed. So surprised enjoyment means job well done!

 Given the opportunity to read a full novel by Appel, I took the shot and accepted an ARC copy... which sat on my digital shelf.. for a couple months..

 When I finally picked  up Millard Salter’s Last Day and began reading it, I was super happy! It is an unusual story about a 75 year old man who had a wonderful life, and wants to end it on his terms while he is still strong and and respected.

 Unfortunately, this novel was very enjoyable but disjointed... Throughout Millard’s final day, he visits his work, finishes tying up loose ends, disparages his son over lunch, visits his ex-wife, and visits his burial plot next to another loved one . These normally mundane tasks are interesting to read because while Millard reminisces throughout, he also is tinged with ambiguous joy/fear of his upcoming private hanging. The book was very much ‘This was your life’ with only one section being heavy handed but absolutely critical to the story.

 What bothered me about this book (and may be the root cause of me taking over a month to read it) was that there are several important events through the day which are glossed over. At first I thought ‘Hey, the guy is dying.. these matters are trivial’ but then I noticed his co-workers were also non-plussed.. Not one character treats these situations as actual people would, instead brushing them off with no effort. The lack of realistic emphasis on abnormal situations really dropped the spark..

 —
Disclosure- based on an ARC copy provided by the Author/Publisher.

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