- Author: Rich Marcello
- Published: October 2016 by Langdon Street Press
- Category: Literary Fiction, Contemporary, Books, Reading, Book Review
Dan Underlight, a divorced, workaholic technology executive, suffers lingering grief over the death of his ten-year-old son, Zack. When Dan’s longtime friend and boss fires Dan from RadioRadio, the company that he helped create, he crashes and isolates himself.
I received a copy of this book from the author after seeing this guest post on Barb Taub’s blog. I’m so glad I did. Beauty of the Fall charts the incredible highs and desperate lows of Dan Underlight’s life. The downward spiral begins with the death of his ten-year old son, Zack, following his divorce from Zack’s mother. Dan blames himself for Zack’s death and immerses himself in work. The rug is pulled out from under him again when he loses his job at the company he loves, and helped to create with his good friend, Olivia.
Dan’s life is in free fall and the only thing keeping him tethered to a semblance of reality are his visits to his therapist, Nessa. Until he meets Willow, a survivor who runs a non-profit organisation for victims of domestic violence. Their friendship develops into a deep and abiding love, although we don’t get to witness the build up of their relationship. There are quite a few significant developments in Dan’s life when this happens. I would have liked to see how Dan worked through these events initially, it helps to build a connection to the character.
Willow helps Dan get back on track and with her support he sets out on a pilgrimage, in memory of his son and to work through a yet unformed idea he has, based on a comment made by Zack.
“You know, Dad, the world would be a better place if people talked more.”
Dan’s new enterprise, ConversationWorks, is an amazing concept with incredible potential…..and is in direct competition with Olivia and his previous company. I was drawn in to the story initially by the descriptive, rich prose and then, even more so, by the troubled and complex Dan. His is a personal and soul-searching journey with a succession of experiences, good, bad and heartbreaking but all through, the narrative explores the different and tangled layers of relationships, love, grief, betrayal and healing.
When growth stopped a year ago, for the first time, big-league adversity loomed over RadioRadio, over Olivia. The stock fell to fifty percent of its fifty-two-week high. We lost two hundred million in a quarter. Many called for her resignation, but somehow she held on. Still, the spotlight judge rocked her, made her second-guess long-standing goals and values, made her hire consultants. Like cancer, they spread through the company; like brain cancer, they crowded me out…….
I can’t ditto her hug. Billions of prickling needles freeze my arms at my sides. Am I bleeding? Don’t look down, the pinpricks have spouted and are covering the new carpet in blood.
The technology aspect is complicated but intriguing; developing software that could change the world and how people communicate. It would be an amazing way to problem solve. I wouldn’t know whether or not it was plausible, so taking it at face value I went with the flow. The story covers many important themes including domestic violence and global warming, and ways to address the problems.
Rich Marcello’s writing is incredibly eloquent and evocative, gritty and powerful. I enjoyed the structure of the story; split into parts with each chapter heading relating to specific events and/or situations.The inclusion of the poetry was inspired and even the comprehensive descriptions only drew me further in. Characters are engaging and realistic, and the relevance of the story in today’s world is marked. I love the cover, everything has a relevance, and the title with it’s multiple meanings. All in all, an excellent read.
I chose to read and review The Beauty of the Fall based on a digital copy of the book supplied by the author/publisher.
About Rich Marcello
Rich is a poet, an accomplished songwriter and musician, a creative writing teacher at Seven Bridges’ Writer Collaborative, and the author of three novels, The Color of Home, The Big Wide Calm, and the forthcoming, The Beauty of the Fall, due out in 2016. Previously, he enjoyed a successful career as a technology executive, managing several multi-billion dollar businesses for Fortune 500 companies.
The Color of Home was published in 2013 by Langdon Street Press, and melds together honest generative dialogue, poetic sensory detail, and “unforgettable characters who seem to know the complete song catalog of Lennon or Cohen.” The Big Wide Calm was published in 2014, also by Langdon Street Press. The US Review of Books stated, “Marcello’s novel has a lot going for it. Well-written, thought-provoking, and filled with flawed characters, it meets all of the basic requirements of best-of-show in the literary fiction category.” The Beauty of the Fall will be published in 2016. Faulkner Award Winner Mark Spencer commented, “Few novels are as intelligent and relevant as The Beauty of the Fall. Almost none is as eloquent, compelling, heartbreaking, and ultimately, uplifting.”
As anyone who has read Rich’s work can tell you, his books deal with life’s big questions: love, loss, creativity, community, aging, self-discovery. His novels are rich with characters and ideas, crafted by a natural storyteller, with the eye and the ear of a poet.
For Rich, writing and art making is about connection, or as he says, about making a difference to a least one other person in the world, something he has clearly achieved many times over, both as an artist, a mentor, and a teacher.
Rich lives in Massachusetts on a lake with his family and two Newfoundlands, Ani and Shaman. He is currently working on his fourth novel, The Latecomers.