Carter Beats the Devil: Book summary and reviews of Carter Beats the Devil by Glen David Gold

Carter Beats the Devil

By Glen David Gold

Carter Beats the Devil
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  • Published in USA  Sep 2001,
    496 pages.

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Book Summary

An amazing, richly evocative novel of magic and history in the tradition of E. L. Doctorow and Caleb Carr.

America in the 1920s was a nation obsessed with magic. Not just the kind performed in theaters and on stages across the country, but the magic of technology, science, and prosperity. Enter Charles Carter -- a.k.a. Carter the Great -- a young master performer whose skill as an illusionist exceeds even that of the great Houdini. Fueled by a passion for magic that grew out of desperation and loneliness, Carter has become a legend in his own time. His thrilling act involves outrageous stunts carried out on elaborate sets before the most demanding audiences. But the most outrageous stunt of all stars none other than President Warren Harding and ends up nearly costing Carter the reputation he worked so hard to create.

Filled with historical references that evoke the excesses and enthusiasm of postwar, pre-Depression America, Carter Beats the Devil is the complex and illuminating story of one man's journey through a magical -- and sometimes dangerous -- world, where illusion is everything, and everything is illusory.

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Reviews

Media Reviews

"[T]his thoroughly entertaining debut by an amateur magician with an M.F.A. in creative writing is a fanciful pastiche of history, fantasy and romance." - Publishers Weekly.

"Starred Review. Like the best magicians, Gold puts on an amazing show, distracting his readers at critical moments and delighting them when surprises are revealed. A brilliant first novel from a promising new author." - Booklist.

"An enormously assured first novel." - New York Times.

"Simply amazing. Please, an encore ... A" - Entertainment Weekly.

"A wildly ambitious performance from a first-novelist who has all the tricks in his bag - but just doesn't know how to use them yet." - Kirkus Reviews.

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Author Information

Glen David Gold Author Biography

Glen David Gold is best known as the author of Carter Beats the Devil, a fictionalized biography of Charles Joseph Carter (1874-1936), an American illusionist performing from c.1900-1936. He writes in a narrative style, and the book was hailed as a very respectable venture into historical fiction. Gold is married to author Alice Sebold. The couple lives in San Francisco, California. His next novel, Sunnyside, is due for publication in May 12th, 2009. His short stories, including "The Tears of Squonk," have appeared in a number of issues of McSweeney's.

Gold wrote a single episode of the cartoon show Hey Arnold, in which title character Arnold stages an amateur magic show and "disappears" his friend Helga, who escapes during the trick, causing Arnold and the others to think she really ...

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