Harry Houdini was a master of illusions. He could escape handcuffs and water tanks, and make you think he could make an elephant disappear. And though Houdini was the master of illusion, there was one illusion he did not appreciate: that of mediums communicating with the dead for their loved ones left behind. Houdini worked throughout his career to gather folders of information with which to destroy some of the best-known mediums of the day. And while Houdini was working to destroy the mediums, there were those who were working to destroy Houdini. Those who tried to poison him and put him in situations that endangered his life. And, escape artist he was, he was able to avoid death, until Martin Strauss punched him in the stomach. And when that happened, Strauss had to make himself disappear, leaving the woman he loved behind and starting a new life. And now, as Strauss is aging, he is finding his life was more intertwined with Houdini’s than he realized when he was younger. Told in alternating chapters of Houdini and Strauss young and old, this novel tells the story of Houdini’s rise to fame and his demise. It incorporates details about one of his passions, that of destroying the idea that mediums could communicate with the dead. Houdini was a fascinating person, and the novel gives us some sense of who he was beyond his performances. An interesting read about one of the great magicians/illusionists of our time.
Book Review: The Confabulist by Steven Galloway
05 Monday May 2014
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