Suicide should come with a warning label: “Do not try this alone.”
If you truly need out and want the job done right, you should consider using an outside expert.
Eli Edelmann never intended on making a living through mercy killing. After reluctantly taking over his family’s party supply store following his father’s death, he is approached by a terminally ill family friend who’s had enough. The friend, a retired policeman, has an intricate plan involving something Eli has ready access to – helium. Eli is initially shocked and repulsed by the proposal, but soon begins to soften his stance and, after much deliberation, eventually agrees to lend a hand.
It was supposed to be a one-time thing. How could Eli have known euthanasia was his true calling? And how long can he keep his daring underground “exit” operation going before the police or his volatile new girlfriend get wise?
What Was I Thinking?
How I Came Up with the Idea of The Exit Man
When people ask me, “What’s your new novel about”, I tell them, “It’s a dark comedy about a party supply storeowner who helps terminally ill people end their lives with grace and dignity.”
That’s when the people invariably knit their brow and ask: “You wrote a comedy about suicide?”
“Of course not,” I respond. “What kind of insensitive jerk do you think I am? I wrote a comedy about mercy killing.
And for the record, my new novel – The Exit Man – is more of a dramedy than a comedy. I’m really not such a bad guy. Neither is my protagonist, Eli.
Another very common follow-up question I receive from the few people who aren’t afraid to continue talking to me is: “How did you come up with that?”
Well, like many writers and other sensitive creative types, I often think about suicide whenever the slightest thing doesn’t go my way. (Now, before any of you offer me a hotline number to call or recommend I seek psychiatric help, let me point out that, while I may often think about suicide, I don’t often think about committing suicide. Thank you, though, for your imagined concern.)
So, one day, after something horrible happened to me (I could find my favorite pen) I started thinking about what would be the easiest, most humane and least messy way to end it all. That, of course, led to a Google search where, after a little bit of digital digging, I discovered that the steady and controlled inhalation of helium – via a tank, a tube and a plastic bag over the head – was the method of choice among many right-to-die advocates.
Fortunately I have ADHD, so I soon forgot that I was upset about my misplaced pen and became very intrigued by what I was reading. I saw the spark of a potentially good story. An original story.
Like most people, when I think of helium I think of party balloons (and squeaky voices). So when fleshing out my story, I got to thinking how interesting it would be to have a regular schmoe who owns a party supply store somehow get involved in euthanasia. I didn’t want to have an evil and sadistic protagonist, however, so I was careful to craft a set of circumstances that would make the party supply guy’s indoctrination into mercy killing not only believable but noble (no helium pun intended). A sort of Dexter meets Dr. Kevorkian kind of tale.
I want to point out that The Exit Man in no way makes light of suicide or terminal illness. The book is certainly a dark comedy (at least I hope to elicit some laughter); however, the humor in the book stems not from death or suffering. Rather, the humor comes from the complicated predicaments that Eli continuously finds himself in. And also from the stark contrast of Eli’s day job with his secret underground operation. Selling party favors one minute and taking a life the next – plenty of room for black humor there, don’t you think?
While making readers chuckle was definitely part of my original plan with this novel, laughter was not all I was after. I had hoped to engage readers and elicit lively discussions about voluntary euthanasia – all while providing plenty of suspense and intrigue.
So, now that you know what I was thinking when I created The Exit Man, I’d love for you to check out the book and then let me know what you’re thinking!
About The Author
Having spent much of his life weaving intricate tales to get out of things like gym class and jury duty, Greg Levin is no stranger to fiction. Greg’s debut novel, Notes on an Orange Burial was published in November 2011 by Elixirist (now 48fourteen) and has sold over 11 copies to his immediate family. Greg’s second book, The Exit Man (available Spring 2014), is already being hailed as one of the top two novels he has ever written.
Greg has been getting paid to put words together since 1994, working as a professional business journalist, freelance writer and ghostwriter. He has written hundreds of feature articles, case studies and satire pieces, as well as a critically acclaimed business ebook.
When not busy writing, Greg enjoys thinking about writing, and spending time with his wife and daughter. He also enjoys cooking, traveling and exercising, as well as freestyle rapping for his friends even when they don’t do anything to deserve such mistreatment.
Greg was born in Huntington, New York in 1969, and then moved to Harrisburg, Pennsylvania with his family when he was six. He attended the University of New Hampshire and graduated summa cum laude in 1991 with a BA in Communication and a special concentration in Creative Writing.
Greg currently resides in Austin, Texas, where he is one of just 17 people who don’t play a musical instrument or write songs. He is currently wanted by Austin authorities for refusing to eat pork ribs or dance the two-step.
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