Tag Archives: showmanship

The Adventures of Vaclav the Magnificent & His Lovely Assistant Lena by Haley Tanner

DATE FINISHED: May 12th, 2012

RATED: *** (3.5)

SYNOPSIS:  Both children of Russian immigrants to Brooklyn, Vaclav and Lena have been inseparable since the first day they met and saw the magic act at a Coney Island sideshow. Vaclav becomes magician-in-training (with his lovely assistant Lena), and nobody questions why Lena barely eats and spends all of her time at Vaclav’s house or why he should do her homework. One night, Lena disappears from 10 year old Vaclav’s life with no explanation, leaving a gaping wound where VacLena has been separated. It is only when Lena re-finds Vaclav on her 17th birthday that the missing pieces are slotted back together…

THOUGHTS:  The third person, present tense narrative reflects Vaclav and Lena’s growing grasp of the English language, which did initially grate on me, but became less grating as they grew older. Read more of this post

The Flying Man by Roopa Farooki

DATE FINISHED: April 2nd, 2012

RATED: ****

SYNOPSIS:  Maqil, Miguel, Mehmet, Mike, slips through life from name to name, wife to wife, border to border, decade to decade, relying on his easy charm and quick wit to see him through the short con and the long, to provide the edge and entertainment he craves. But suddenly he is old, and what does he have to show for it? And who will miss him, once he’s gone?

THOUGHTS:   I was expecting to read about the exploits of a glib, smooth-talking conman, but instead Farooki revealed the other side of the man – Read more of this post

Mr. Vertigo by Paul Auster

DATE FINISHED: October 5th, 2011             

RATED: *** (3.5)

SYNOPSIS:  9 year old Walt is plucked from the streets of St. Louis by the mysterious Master Yehudi, and promised that he will be taught how to fly. At a farm in Kansas, Walt is put through a tortuous 33 step program but his sharp wit sees him through, and after he stops fighting, realises that for the first time he is in the midst of a family that loves him. But with flight achieved and showbusiness stardom beckoning, is the future really as bright as it seems?

THOUGHTS:  On one level, I really enjoyed this book. Walt and Master Yehudi are great characters, and the story sucked me in immediately. Read more of this post

A Method Actor’s Guide to Jekyll and Hyde by Kevin MacNeil

DATE FINISHED: October 2nd, 2011             

RATED: *** (3.5)

SYNOPSIS:  Robert (Lewis) is in a bad way after a cycling accident, but he is determined that it will not affect his casting in the lead role(s) of a new production based on Stevenson’s Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.  But it seems he must prove his worth over a new actor who has been brought in to play the same role(s) not to mention win back his erstwhile ‘girlfriend’ Juliette.  In fact, none of the cast or crew seem to fully appreciate either Robert’s bravery/tenacity in the face of his post-accident pain, or indeed his immense talent.  And somehow, everything in his life seems to be sliding dramatically from bad to worse…

THOUGHTS:  The bulk of the story is told by Robert, so given the aftermath of the accident, combined with the subject of the play, the logical reader expects some kind of Jekyll & Hyde manifestation within his character.   Read more of this post

The Illusionist by Jennifer Johnston

DATE FINISHED: May 2nd, 2011

RATED: **** (4.5)

SYNOPSIS:  Martyn lives a double life: he works as an illusionist, and at home he builds the appearance of domestic bliss. But what is his past? Where does he come from? Where is his family? Where does the money come from to support his life with Star? At first entranced by the enigma of his extravagance and arrogance, eventually Stella realises she is being crushed by his controlling ways and that their life, too, is an illusion. The novel begins with Martyn’s shocking death but continues with his wife and daughter struggling to integrate their opposing views of husband and father. There is one last illusion which it seems even Martyn cannot sustain beyond the grave.

THOUGHTS: Read more of this post

Carter Beats the Devil by Glen David Gold

DATE FINISHED: April 5th, 2011

RATED: ****

SYNOPSIS: President Harding dies just hours after participating in Carter the Great’s magic show.  Secret services want to know what (if anything) Carter had to do with the death.  The story flashes back to different episodes throughout Carter’s life & career until the mystery reaches its conclusion.

THOUGHTS: Read more of this post

The Prestige by Christopher Priest

DATE FINISHED: March 30th, 2011

RATED: ****

SYNOPSIS: Two stage magicians of the 19th century spend a lifetime competing against each other professionally & feuding with each other unprofessionally.  Through the journals of the two magicians, various secrets are revealed…

THOUGHTS: Read more of this post