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Reviews Written by
Orrin C. Judd "brothersjudddotcom" (Hanover, NH USA)

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My Dream Of You
My Dream Of You
by Nuala Ofaolain
Edition: Hardcover
50 used & new from CDN$ 0.01

2.0 out of 5 stars anti-human, Oct. 1 2001
This review is from: My Dream Of You (Hardcover)
"What happened to me?''
-Nuala O'Faolain, Are You Somebody ? : The Accidental Memoir of a Dublin Woman
This was, without a doubt, the most depressing, anti-human book I've ever read (well, actually, listened to). Kathleen de Burca, a travel writer, has fled an unhappy childhood in her native Ireland, only to find an unhappy adulthood in England. She has almost no friends and seems never to have loved or been loved. Instead she engages in innumerable casual couplings, fueled by nothing but physical desire :
I believed in passion the way other people believed in God: everything fell in place around it.
But now, as she approaches fifty, she faces the possibility that even this sexual consolation will dry up :

But then I thought, Isn't it some kind
of good, that a person can be shocked into truthfulness, even if it's only for a
few hours and only with herself? I sat in the thick night air of the plane and I
thought, If anyone had said to you, all these years, are you interested in sex?
you'd have said, haughtily, No. I'm interested in passion. Passion. I murmured
the word half out loud. What passion? It was never real excitement that got you
into bed; it was hope, like some stubborn underground weed. Look at the way
you've believed every time, at the first brush of a hand across a breast, that the
roof over your life was sliding back and a dazzling, starry firmament was just
coming into view. When it never happened. When a one-night stand has never,
in all the years, done what you wanted it to do. What's more, the whole thing is
getting more and more pathetic. The truth is, I said to myself, that the older you
get, the more grateful you are for being wanted on any terms, by anybody.
But if I stopped all that, how would I ever meet anyone? If I didn't have this
kind of sex life, I'd have none! Then I thought, But should it even be called sex?
Look at the businessman in Harare. You're not even giving them any pleasure
anymore, never mind getting any for yourself.
Pathetic ? Pathetic doesn't even begin to cover it, sweetie.
Finally becoming dissatisfied with her utterly meaningless existence, and shocked out of her torpor by the death of a gay male coworker, Kathleen returns to Ireland. But things go no better there as she squabbles with sisters, gets involved with a married man, and rages against the country's anti-abortion laws. Apparently, the lot of Ireland's universally unhappy women would be infinitely better if only they could terminate their unwanted pregnancies. In fact, it's not merely the children who are wrecking their lives, I lost track of how many women in the book have some kind of disease of the womb; their very womanhood is killing them. A whole lot of other nonsense goes on, but by then I plunged deep into a suicidal fugue state...
Lest you think I'm overstating the case here, allow me to submit in my defense this quote from a profile of O'Faolain in The Guardian :
'I can't wait to be an old lady,' she says. 'I'm dying to wither up so I can stop hurting.'
For God's sake, someone put the old girl out of her misery, or at the very least out of ours. This one has Oprah Book Club written all over it.

Red Balloon [Import]
Red Balloon [Import]
5 used & new from CDN$ 9.75

0 of 5 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars your kids will never forgive you, Oct. 1 2001
This review is from: Red Balloon [Import] (VHS Tape)
... Nonetheless, for those of us who were born in the 60s, there's one factor, above all others, that forged our contempt : The Red Balloon. We are the lost generation that had to sit through this godawful flick in some stinking grade school auditorium every time that it rained and we weren't allowed out on the playground for recess.
I don't recall, but I suppose the first time we saw it we may have even thought it was mildly cute. It's fairly harmless--a little kid is followed all around some miserable, bombed out, French city by a vibrantly colored red balloon that he finds tied to a lamppost. It eludes the grasp of others, but bobs and weaves all over the place so that the boy can tow it around. After disrupting school and church it is finally hunted down by a gang of nearly feral French schoolchildren who stone it to death. There follows the obligatory resurrection (the balloon having previously been immaculately conceived and crucified) as the boy is transported heavenwards by a host of balloons. Hard to believe then how grating these 34 minutes of celluloid become by the end of the first viewing, never mind on the umpteenth. We used to sit in the dark and pray that just this one time someone would burst the balloon in the first few minutes and save us from misery. To no avail...

Wild Thorns
Wild Thorns
by Sahar Khalifeh
Edition: Paperback
Price: CDN$ 19.46
38 used & new from CDN$ 2.25

4.0 out of 5 stars tragedy or farce?, Sept. 30 2001
This review is from: Wild Thorns (Paperback)
My cousin kills a man and I carry off his daughter. Tragedy or farce?
-Wild Thorns
This novel is part of something called the Emerging Voices Series and, from what I could find online,
although the book is now over twenty-five years old and Sahar Khalifeh is in her fifties, she is indeed
considered one of the important voices in Middle Eastern literature. The action of Wild Thorns takes
place just a few years after Israel occupied the West Bank, which is where Khalifeh lived when she
wrote it. The main character in the book is Usama, a young Palestinian returning to the territories
after being fired from his job in the oil states. Though his mother has high hopes that he will marry a
lovely cousin, Usama has actually returned to his homeland on a mission, to blow up the buses which
carry Palestinian day laborers to their jobs in Israel.
Usama is shocked by the changes he finds on his return, the indignities that people put up with,
starting with the difficulty getting through the check points on the way into the territories, having to
submit to searches and interrogations. But he is most disturbed by how economically dependent
Palestinians have become on Israel, both for jobs and for consumer goods. He sees this as a kind of
collaboration, which implicates everyone in the occupation.
Meanwhile, the hero of the book is really Adil, another young Palestinian, Usama's cousin, who has
stayed at home, works at one of the well paying Israeli jobs in order to take care of his extended
family, and wants no part of the coming violence. But, inevitably, he too gets caught up in the sweep
of events. In the first instance, when he just happens to be on the scene when an Israeli soldier is
attacked and stabbed, Adil carries the soldier's young daughter to safety. But in the end, when Usama
and his cronies attack the very bus convoy that Adil is riding in, he ends up grabbing a gun himself.
Though Ms Khalifeh is obviously sympathetic to the plight of her people, the novel is largely
non-polemical. Adil seems to be as much a victim of Usama's mindless terrorism as is the Israeli
soldier. Yet, Adil's final decision to take up arms makes a certain awful sense too. Even someone as
generally hostile to the Palestinian cause as I am can understand how even the most decent and
reluctant of men would choose to fight with his own people when push came to shove. But, of course,
this is the evil logic of terror, to make everyone take sides, to turn even the peace loving into killers.
It is this that makes the events of the novel as tragic as they are inexorable.

First Love and the Diary of a Superfluous Man
First Love and the Diary of a Superfluous Man
by Ivan Turgenev
Edition: Paperback
Price: CDN$ 5.50
35 used & new from CDN$ 0.01

4.0 out of 5 stars chronicle of wasted time, Sept. 27 2001
"superfluous man " (Russian : Lishny Chelovek) : a character type whose frequent recurrence in
19th-century Russian literature is sufficiently striking to make him a national archetype. He is
usually an aristocrat, intelligent, well-educated, and informed by idealism and goodwill but
incapable, for reasons as complex as Hamlet's, of engaging in effective action.
-Encyclopaedia Britannica
In his great autobiography, Memoirs of a Superfluous Man, Albert Jay Nock meant that he was
superfluous because his ideas, particularly his belief in freedom, had become so outmoded at the time
he was writing--the 1940s. But the original superfluous men were Russian nobles, who led utterly
meaningless lives of leisure, while peasants worked their land, servants took care of them, and
autocratic government mostly ignored them. They were felt to be superfluous because they had so
little to do and made so little contribution to Russian culture. For the most part though, they were
treated, in literature anyway, as kind of tragic heroes, as Russian Hamlets.
Thus, in Ivan Turgenev's novella, The Diary of a Superfluous Man, the young protagonist,
Tchulkaturin, humiliates himself in a romantic entanglement and a resulting duel, all the while
conveying the sense that there's nothing else really left for him to do with himself. Turgenev's
portrayal of this hopeless character combines tragicomedy with social criticism, but it is certainly more
sympathetic than not.
As always, Turgenev is the most accessible of Russian authors; the Constance Garnett translation is
very readable; and it is blessedly short. Even if you're, understandably, intimidated by Russian
novelists, you'll enjoy it.

by Michel Houellebecq
Edition: Paperback
29 used & new from CDN$ 0.01

3.0 out of 5 stars fight the power, Sept. 25 2001
This review is from: Whatever (Paperback)
We live in a world in which there are no more links. We're just particles. It's a simple metaphor.
-Michel Houellebecq
What could be sadder than someone who understands the greatest problem of modernity but has
surrendered to it, rather than struggle against it ? The novelist Michel Houellebecq is the most
controversial and reviled Frenchman of the day--and just think what it must take to achieve that rare
distinction : the most hated man in France (actually, he's even fled now, to Ireland). He was widely
hailed on the publication of this novel, which was famously compared to The Stranger of Albert
Camus by many, including the critic Tibor Fischer, who is blurbed on the cover of the book. But
then his next novel, published here as Elementary Particles, attacked the French student
revolutionaries of 1968, indicting them for their hedonistic individualism and the exalting of the
pursuit of personal gratification, which he writes has effectively drained sex of any passion or love.
Such things simply aren't done in France; the Generation of '68, like the perpetrators of the original
French Revolution, are sacrosanct, are beyond criticism.
Not content to merely rile up the intelligentsia, Houellebecq's new book, Plateforme, attacks Islam
and celebrates sexual tourism, trips to Southeast Asia for the purpose of having sex with teenage
prostitutes. The advocacy of using the Third World as a brothel upsets people for all the obvious
reasons. But his comments on Islam may earn him his own fatwa.
The girlfriend of the novel's protagonist is murdered in a terrorist bombing, prompting this passage :
Islam had shattered my life, and Islam was certainly something I could hate. In the days that
followed, I dedicated myself to hating Islam. Each time that I hear that a Palestinian terrorist, or a
Palestinian child, or a pregnant Palestinian woman has been shot in the Gaza Strip, I shiver with
enthusiasm at the thought that there is one less Muslim
Before September 11th such thoughts were truly beyond the pale, particularly in a nation, France,
which in a matter of decades will be majority Muslim.
In subsequent interviews, Mr. Houellebecq, possibly quite accurately, suggested that Islam is doomed
because capitalism is undermining it. A thought which reflects greater understanding of the roots of
fundamentalist terrorism than many of his more politically correct critics, but which is likewise not to
be discussed in polite company.
At any rate, in Whatever, a geeky young French computer technician, the job Houellebecq held when
he was writing it, who has not had sex in two years, is sent to Rouen with a partner, Tisserand, who is
even nerdier and a virgin to boot. The narrator resents a world in which he is unable to satisfy his
desires because :
In a perfectly liberal economic system, some people accumulate considerable fortunes; others
molder in unemployment and poverty. In a perfectly liberal sexual system, some people have a
varied and exciting erotic life; others are reduced to masturbation and solitude.
So he tries to stoke Tisserand's own resentments enough to turn him into a serial killer (the one
murder of The Stranger apparently no longer sufficing).
Houellebecq's critique of modern man's isolation from his fellows is certainly accurate. However,
once you've diagnosed the pathology you can't just surrender to it. Further cheapening sex and adding
violence to it can only degrade mankind further. Having recognized our condition, and that it is
critical, it is incumbent on all of us to restore the connections that once bound us together, to rebuild
community, rather than to retreat further into the self.
Here's an excerpt from a profile of the author, by Emily Eakin, that ran in the New York Times
Magazine :
Initially, Houellebecq set out to change the world. ... Houellebecq believed the book [Whatever]
would force people to reconsider the premium we place on physical beauty. 'I was certain the
novel would provoke social change,' he said. 'Now I think it was megalomania. When you go into a
club today, you see the same behaviour as six years ago. A novel won't ever change the world.'
Is that really all that remains for Houellebecq, to try and get his hood waxed, and to help other
unattractive men to get it on too ? If so, isn't he part of the problem, rather than part of the solution
? When your doctor tells you that you're developing skin cancer, he doesn't recommend that you go
sit in the sun, does he ?
At one point, the narrator sees a graffito that says :
God wanted there to be inequality, not injustice.
This smacks of the truth. A world in which an unattractive, and by all accounts extremely unpleasant,
Frenchman does not have his choice of woman, while unfortunate for him, is probably inevitable.
But a world in which we are all mere particles, colliding randomly but never connecting, is a tragedy
for all of us.
The book then is most interesting as a self-portrait of a defeated victim of modernity's increasing
atomization (Atomisation was actually the British title of Elementary Particles). But, because he ends
up collaborating in the process, he is too much a willing victim for us to feel any real sympathy for
his plight. The appropriate posture towards the all too real phenomena he delineates is resistance, not
acquiescence. There is too much of Vichy in Michel Houellebecq.

In the Year of the Boar and Jackie Robinson
In the Year of the Boar and Jackie Robinson
by Bette Bao Lord
Edition: Library Binding
Price: CDN$ 21.67
24 used & new from CDN$ 0.01

4.0 out of 5 stars opportunity and obligation, Sept. 24 2001
Ten year old Bandit Wong comes to Brooklyn in 1947 having been officially dubbed Shirley Temple
Wong, at her own request, by her family patriarch before leaving Shanghai. Now she has to win the
acceptance of her schoolmates, while still honoring her Chinese heritage. This dichotomy is reflected
in the title of the book, as it is the Year of the Boar on the Chinese calendar, but in Brooklyn, it is
Jackie Robinson's rookie year. Over the course of the baseball season Shirley becomes a devoted fan
of the game and of Robinson, and his trail blazing integration of the game becomes a metaphor for
Shirley's efforts to fit in to a new society.
The book is delightful, with a brave and likable heroine who will appeal to anyone, but particularly
girls, and the baseball theme should intrigue boys. It should foster in all kids a further interest in
Jackie Robinson, a genuine American hero. Best of all, it offers a moving depiction of the immigrant
experience and strikes just the right balance between the value of assimilation and immersion in
American culture, while maintaining respect for one's native traditions.
Lord's America really is a land of opportunity, but one which places obligations on those who wish to
reap them. In turn, the example of Jackie Robinson stands as a reminder that to fulfill its promise,
America must afford these opportunities to all those who are willing to shoulder these responsibilities,
regardless of race, creed, or color (or gender).

Crescent and Star: Turkey Between Two Worlds
Crescent and Star: Turkey Between Two Worlds
by Stephen Kinzer
Edition: Hardcover
32 used & new from CDN$ 0.77

5.0 out of 5 stars how bright the future ?, Sept. 22 2001
A truly modern Turkey governed by the rule of law would raise the Turkish people to levels of
prosperity and self-confidence they have never known before. Despite the country's political and
psychological underdevelopment, it has the resources to become a towering power. If it can
itself from its paralyzing fears and embrace true democracy, it will also serve as a magnetic
example of how the ideals of liberty can triumph over enormous obstacles. By adding moral
strength to its military strength, Turkey could become a dominant force in the Middle East,
encouraging peace and pulling Arab countries away from the social backwardness and feudal
dictatorship under which most of them now suffer. It could exert a mighty and stabilizing
influence westward to the Balkans and eastward to the Caucasus and Central Asia, becoming the
key power in a region that is strategically vital, overwhelmingly rich in oil and other resources, and
now ruled mostly by tyrants who are dragging it toward chaos.
-Stephen Kinzer, Crescent & Star
Though we pay obscenely little attention, Turkey is an extraordinarily important nation and its future
may go a long way to determining whether Islam and democracy can ultimately co-exist in one
nation. Geographically and politically, Turkey occupies a unique position, squeezed between Europe
to the West and the Islamic world to the East. Though traditionally Muslim, its great revolutionary
leader Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, upon taking power in 1922 and establishing a Republic, reoriented the
nation towards the West, toward the values of the Enlightenment and the institutions of secular
democracy. But still today, despite the continuing devotion of Turks to the person and ideas of
Ataturk, it remains an open question as to whether the democracy can endure.
Stephen Kinzer was the NY Times correspondent in Turkey for four event filled years and his passion
for the country and its people is infectious. In conversational but admonitory style he manages both
to educate Westerners as to the history and cultural richness of Turkey while also honestly depicting
its internal problems, many of them unresolved, and firmly prodding Turks to deal with them, as a
great nation must.
One very effective device Kinzer uses is a series of brief interludes each dealing with one element of
Turkish life. These include : the fez; raki, the national drink; the nargile, or water pipe; the nation's
three favorite sports--camel fighting, oil wrestling, and cirit (a form of jousting); the literature of
Nazim Hikmet; and the romantic endeavor of swimming the Bosphorus. These quick chapters provide
a rich and fascinating texture to go along with the history.
The hero of the story is very much Ataturk, who at least in Kinzer's portrait seems to have been one
of the most remarkable national leaders of the 20th Century. Like Peter the Great in Russia and the
Shah in Iran, which not coincidentally are the two other equally troublesome Eurasian democracies,
he found it intolerable that his people should be so far behind the West in terms of technology, wealth
creation and self governance, and so, using dictatorial means, he imposed Western institutions an an
often reluctant populace and tried eliminating persistent vestiges of the Ottoman past. That the
Republic endures, is allied with NATO, has a strategic partnership with Israel, and is on the verge of
entering the EU is testimony to his success. But the too frequent necessity for the armed forces to step
in and depose governments, the oppression of the Kurd minority, and the very real fear of a takeover
of government by radical Islamicists, illustrates just how tenuous the democracy remains.
Kinzer is extremely optimistic about Turkey's future and feels that it can afford to face its past more
honestly than it has--including such issues as the Kurds, Cyprus, and the Armenian massacre--and can
take the risk of loosening the Kemalist grip on society, the military backed determination of Turkey's
elites that no threat to Kemal Ataturk's legacy will be permitted. I certainly hope that he is right,
though I'm not as confident.
Even as this book hits the stores, Turkey has decided to allow the United States to operate out of
Turkish airbases in the war on terrorism. Once again, Turkey is proving itself to be a far more
important ally than we in the West give it credit for. Hopefully Stephen Kinzer's excellent book will
educate many Americans as to the unique and potentially vital role in world affairs that Turkey, with
its uneasy blend of democracy and Islam, may play in the coming decades. We have a far larger stake
in the outcome of Turkey's internecine struggles than we seem to realize.

The Notebooks of Malte Laurids Brigge: A Novel
The Notebooks of Malte Laurids Brigge: A Novel
by Rainer Maria Rilke
Edition: Paperback
Price: CDN$ 18.80
34 used & new from CDN$ 1.03

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars unpleasantness, Sept. 22 2001
[....]Loving another does not entitle one to their love in return, but being loved by another does place one
under an obligation. This is the awful truth that Rainer Maria Rilke's semi autobiographical hero,
Malte Laurids Brigge, seems to be trying to evade. In fact, this is very much the dilemma of modern
man, for no matter how much we love God, our love will not necessarily influence Him, but His love
for us places us under an obligation to Him. Of course, the easiest way out of this dilemma is simply
to deny the existence of God, which has been the response of Modernity.
Unfortunately, this still leaves the problem of fellow humans, and the obligations that their love puts
us under. Thus, Rilke, who wrote the book after running away from his wife and young child, says of
Brigge :
[H]e had decided never to love, in order not to put anyone in the terrible position of being loved.
Or, as Sartre more famously said :
Hell is other people.
Both quotes reflect an understanding that love ultimately places limits on human freedom, by creating
Brigge's/Rilke's reaction, one which has been all to common in our age, was to turn completely
inward and become totally self-absorbed, to disregard others. And in the absence of God and of other
people what is the central fact of the self ? Mortality. So it is little surprise that an obsession with
death thoroughly permeates the Notebooks. If you really want to read about an effete and morbidly
self-centered intellectual who is down and out in Paris (of course Paris), this is the book for you.
But if you don't share in the pathologies, it's likely to be off-putting, at least it was for me. [The beauty of Rilke's language]
certainly does not redeem the depressing story. Rilke's concerns are those you would expect of the
man that Michael Dirda describes above : only his own unpleasant self. In the end the book is mainly
interesting as an influential expression of a philosophy of mere existence that has proven enormously
damaging, contributing mightily to the unfortunate atomization of humanity in the 20th Century.

The Easter Parade: A Novel
The Easter Parade: A Novel
by Richard Yates
Edition: Paperback
Price: CDN$ 17.37
56 used & new from CDN$ 0.01

5.0 out of 5 stars scathing, Sept. 19 2001
This is the mystery of Richard Yates: how did a writer so well-respected? even loved? by his peers,
a writer capable of moving his readers so deeply, fall for all intents out of print, and so quickly?
How is it possible that an author whose work defined the lostness of the Age of Anxiety as deftly as
Fitzgeraldï¿s did that of the Jazz Age, an author who influenced American literary icons like
Raymond Carver and Andre Dubus, among others, an author so forthright and plainspoken in his
prose and choice of characters, can now be found only by special order or in the dusty, floor-level
end of the fiction section in secondhand stores? And how come no one knows this? How come no
one does anything about it?
-Stewart O'Nan, The Lost World of Richard Yates (Boston Review)
Well, as it turns out, O'Nan did do something about. His essay, and similar proselytizing by Richard
Russo, got Yates back into print and earned the recent release of his Collected Stories genuine big
event status, with reviews and reappraisals in all the leading papers and journals. For now at least,
he's been rediscovered and restored to an exalted position. But if you read The Easter Parade, it's easy
to see why he faded away so fast; this isn't the kind of book that the intelligentsia would want people
reading, nor would they care to continue to face its ugly truths themselves.
In one of the most depressing opening lines you'd ever want to read, Yates let's the reader know
exactly what he's in for, and why :
Neither of the Grimes sisters would have a happy life, and looking back it always seemed that the
trouble began with their parents' divorce.
The promise of the 60s was that the abandonment of traditional morality, family structures, traditions,
and beliefs would have a liberating effect and make all our lives better. But Yates proceeds instead to
show just how catastrophic these changes were. The older Grimes sister, Sarah, marries a man who
looks like Laurence Olivier, and despite an outwardly happy and comfortable life, ends up being
battered as they teeter on the brink of financial ruin.
Younger sister Emily becomes little more than a slattern, scrumping in parks and waking with
strangers, though she does have a couple of longer term relationships.
The troubles of both can be traced directly to the divorce of their parents. When Emily finds out that
her sister is being beaten by her husband, Sarah tells her :
It's a marriage. If you want to stay married you learn to put up with things.
Emily's prototypical affair is with Ted Banks :
...both felt an urge to drink too much when they were together, as if they didn't want to touch each
other sober.
The one sister is so desperate to hold her marriage together that she'll endure anything. The other is
so afraid of being rejected that she has to have serial relationships and to erect a haze of booze
between herself and her men.
The story is, in fact, soaked in alcohol. And it becomes clear that people use drink to avoid their real
selves, each other, and genuine interaction. It turns out that the "freedom" they've theoretically
gained has made them miserable, is even killing them.
Towards the end of the novel, after Sarah has apparently, though not officially, been killed by her
husband, one of her sons tells Emily :
'You know something? I've always admired you, Aunt Emmy. My mother used to say "Emmy's a
free spirit." I didn't know what that meant when I was little, so I asked her once. And she said
"Emmy doesn't care what anybody thinks. She's her own person and she goes her own way."
The walls of Emily's throat closed up. When she felt it was safe to speak she said 'Did she really
say that?'
Of course she's proud, an older sister pronouncing that she'd realized the dream of their generation, to
be free. But we, the readers, are privy to the awful truth : she's utterly alone, her past wasted, her
future hopeless, alcohol killing her as it killed her mother and father, and contributed to the death of
her sister. The hard won kudos of which she is so proud reads like a death sentence, not just for her,
but for all who thought that this atomized life would make them happy.
The book is exactly as depressing as it sounds like it would be, though there is much dark humor in
it. The story is direct and economical, covering the two women's lives in just over two hundred
pages. Most of all, it is devastating, a brutally honest depiction of tragic choices and truly empty
lives. No wonder he went out of print, the folks who foisted this culture on us were just destroying
the evidence, the way any guilt-ridden perps would..

Carter Beats the Devil: A Novel
Carter Beats the Devil: A Novel
by Glen Gold
Edition: Hardcover
35 used & new from CDN$ 4.41

3.0 out of 5 stars great atmosphere, limited drama, astounding cover, Sept. 19 2001
I'm deeply ambivalent about this one. On the one hand, first time novelist Glen David Gold has done
a really extraordinary job of rendering what the world of the great stage illusionists might have been
like, from the true life hero of the book, Charles Carter, to Houdini and Thurston. The magic shows
are far and away the best part of the book, making the reader desperately wish he were witnessing the
actual tricks. But for my money, he doesn't do much with either Carter, who is so uniformly decent
and naive as to deflect our interest, or the magical arts.
The main drama of the story is supposed to come from Carter's possible involvement in the death of
President Warren G. Harding, who the book has attend a Carter show and participate in one of his
greatest illusions, just hours before his death. Now, largely thanks to Paul Johnson's generous portrait
of him in the great book Modern Times, I'm more of a fan of the generally reviled Harding than most
folks are likely to be....
So I guess I'd recommend the book, if for no other reason than the fascination of reading about the old
vaudeville shows and the great magicians. But, I have to say, after nearly 500 pages, it was a great
relief to finally reach the end of the book.
One word of warning : if you don't want to read the book, don't even look at it. The cover, a
reproduction of a genuine poster, is positively mesmerizing.

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