Leon Arden's book is an entertaining, funny and powerful novel about a dysfunctional New York family forced to grapple with a profound question: do they dare take part in a decision involving the death of a loved one? Russell, the only son of Jacob and Beryl, becomes painfully aware, as he grows from childhood to adolescence, of his mother’s intellectual failings and his father’s need to control everyone around him. He makes his escape into a relationship with a beautiful young English girl. Their bliss is not to be. Jacob suffers a stroke, is paralysed and confined to a wheelchair. His life is unbearable and he begs Russell to help him end it. His son refuses but there is worse to come. Jacob tries to kill himself by a series of increasingly bizarre and desperate methods and Russell is forced to consider a move that could destroy his own life. This gripping novel deals with all the ramifications of euthanasia and how it impacts on a family, no matter what choices they make. Its theme is increasingly topical and although the book is suffused with comedy, it is both disturbing and uplifting.'
210 x 148 mm
'It’s funny, touching, and ultimately both upsetting and moving. I was engrossed from start to finish.'
- Deborah Moggach
'This is not just a funny picture of a New York family. Nor is it just a serious book about assisted suicide. Because it is both, it is an enjoyable, indeed engrossing, read.'
- Brian Clark
'Never judge a book by its cover. Take The Walk to the Paradise Garden (Muswell Press £8.99) by north-London based New Yorker Leon Arden. I’d never heard of him or, indeed, his publishers and might have foolishly passed this by. But you can judge a book by its opening pages and once I had started, I was hooked. This one is a delight, beautifully written, funny and deeply sad in turn.
'It tells the story of Russell-Morgan-Stern, a photographer, his irascible, strangely obsessive father, Jacob; and his mother, Beryl, a Jewish Marge Simpson. But the star of the book is uncle Sol, “a short, bald, bull of a man ready for a fight,” a human Brillo pad, always abrasive and ready to scour his nearest and dearest with an argument.
'The first 160 pages tell the story of Russ’s childhood and adolescence, battling with parents, teachers, and later, girlfriends who apparently hadn’t been told that it was the Swinging Sixties. It is hilarious, but even here, there are hints of something darker to come. Jacob is constantly telling his family how he put down someone with a perfect one-liner or comeback line but, one day, Russ witnesses an encounter between his father and another driver in a car park and later, overhearing Jacob’s account, full of the usual bravado, “remembered triumphs fell to dust.”
'The next chapter describes a nerdish music appreciation teacher and ends with a twist so powerful that it is worth the price of the book on its own.
'The second, darker half contains some of the most moving accounts of illness and death I have read in years, punctured only once by a laugh-out-loud moment of dark comedy which all fans of Uncle Sol will relish.' - David Herman Camden New Journal
Comments on The Savage Place
'A good novelist… with the eyes of an accurate, sensitive photographer and the ear of a poet.' - Boston Globe
'A first novel of raw intensity and disturbing psychological impact.' - Saturday Review
'An unusual book. The bed of love is The Savage Place where men and women meet in punishing antagonism... will be of interest to anyone who studies the patterns and attitudes of our contemporary culture.' - N.Y. Herald Tribune Book Review
Leon Arden is a New Yorker who has settled in England. He spent five years working as a free-lance photographer in the US, Mexico and Europe. He then turned to writing and his first four novels were published in the USA. The Walk to the Paradise Garden is his first to be originally published in England.