Martin Strauss is none of these things. What follows is a fictionalized account of Houdini's life. That this is done openly from the opening chapter does not make it any less problematic. Like Houdini, Galloway believes that the magician's greatest trick is not just to amaze the audience, but to make you believe the impossible. The world has seen him. The reader becomes an active participant, deciding which parts are real, which are illusion. His numerous affairs were mentioned in passing.
In this process, one is forced to stretch for connections, peer into the murk for outlines, perceive form in the swirling fog, until, miraculously, the truth gradually begins to emerge in muted, low relief, like a figure from a vat of melted chocolate. There are compelling elements at play in The Confabulist. The book focusses on Harry Houdini and Martin Strauss whose lives intersect with regularity and a tad bit of magical realism. What is real and what is an illusion? Historica Foundation, 1 Sep 2007. So, I was happy when I was selected to preview his latest book.
Alice is This was a very confusing ending for me! We didn't get to see him practice his feats or design his boxes. Not all the way surprised because I did figure it out at teh same time that the reveal was happening. The best parts of the book were, by far, the descriptions of Houdini's escapes, while the parts about Strauss were so washed out that I was unable to get a sense of him as a character. What's left of a person after they're gone is a spirit of who and what they were. In the end, however, he determines that the mysterious Alice deserves to know the unobscured truth, because, he confesses, he was responsible for depriving her of a father. Since he's a well-known and respected author, I expected excellent writing and a quality story. This novel is a fiction and may not be for everyone but real or not….
In this book I got to become more familiar with the man behind the illuisionist. He was a magician's magician, an aviator, and a fierce opponent of the spiritualism movement. Historically rich and ingeniously told, this is a novel about magic and memory, truth and illusion, and the ways that love, hope, grief, and imagination can - for better or for worse - alter what we perceive and believe. The story is intricate and flows beautifully through distinct chapters to immerse us into the lives of the two main players. As a result, his doctor explains, his brain will create false memories to fill the void, and he may not even be aware of the process.
The book opens in the present day, when a much older Strauss is meeting with a doctor, who is explaining that there is something medically wrong with Strauss. But it's the only place the dead lived. The past is no place to live. Galloway and what he has up his sleeve next. I remember enjoying , and most especially for the research -- just as I thought Galloway did a masterful job of evoking the terrible siege of that city, I think that he excels here in bringing Harry Houdini to life and making him even larger than the known legend by adding fictional elements to his life's work.
Because we know this is going to happen. Or, perhaps one of those is an illusion. So when, on the most extraordinary night of his life, Martin Strauss accidentally kills the great magician, his own life is turned upside down. Moments later, punches having been delivered, Houdini, obviously in pain, asked Whitehead to stop. The Confabulist is the fourth novel by Canadian author, Steven Galloway. He attended the University College of the Cariboo and the University of British Columbia. As opens, the aging Martin Strauss meets with a doctor who explains that Strauss is in the process of losing his mind: while he will continue to perform all of his normal functions, his memories will disappear and be replaced with imaginary ones.
A lifetime of sleight of hand takes some explaining. I would not read it again and I have am not certain I would read another book written by Steven Galloway. We think that our minds are like a library—the right book is there somewhere if you can find it. Like Houdini, Galloway ends up playing to his audience even when he knows better. But our memory changes, evolves, erases.
Overall this was a quick and interesting read. A confabulist, in psychology-speak, is someone who fabricates imaginary experiences as compensation for memory loss. In December 2016, Galloway revealed that he had had an affair with a student, for which he apologized. Martin is an obvious literary device, so one does not hope for too much there. The Strauss sections worked less well for me -- this unreliable narrator didn't do too much, and in the end, can never even explain what compelled him to throw that punch and if Steven Galloway is going to use this real person's infamy in a work of fiction, I think he owes it to the man to at least construct a reasonable motivation.
This kept me reading all the way through. He loses his home, the woman he loves and every hope he once had. This is the way that Steven has chosen to write Martin's life, giving it an ethereal Beautiful Mind feel. This book does not; it is more like small eddies disrupting the stream in its smooth flow. Galloway sent the cellist a signed copy of the book.