How much of our lives is real and how much is an illusion?
The world's gaze is focussed on the feats and daring of the amazing Harry Houdini, while not a soul is aware of down-and-out Martin Strauss. However, Strauss' fate is inextricably linked with the magician's, and as Houdini continues to rise, and Strauss continues to fall, their lives will converge in spectacular and devastating fashion...
At once entertaining and suspenseful, historically rich and cleverly told, The Confabulist is an novel of 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 what we believe.
While reading this book I realised that I do not know anything about Harry Houdini, except for that for what he was famous for of course. But fact and fiction goes into each other here. Just as the narrator does not really know fact from fiction either. He has memories that are not real, and memories that are.
This book is then about Harry Houdini and how he became the most famous performer in the world. From his humble beginnings to performing for royalty. Other than royalty he meets detectives from Scotland Yard, Arthur Conan Doyle and spiritualists. He may perform "magic" but he does not like those who pray on those who do not know better.
The other POV is of Martin Strauss, the man who killed Houdini twice. It all comes through flashback as he is visiting a doctor. He wonders about his fake memories, and about the woman Alice who has come to him for answers.
I still wonder about what is really true, and what is not. I had to go check myths and theories about Houdini. But it was also interesting to learn more about those tricks. They seem so real, I know they are fake, but still, well that is magic of it after all.
If I am to compare it to his other novel, The Cellist of Sarajevo, then I did like that one better because it was hauntingly beautiful.
Paperback, 320 pages
Published August 7th 2014 by Atlantic Books