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Houdini: The Handcuff Kingby Jason Lutes and Nick Bertozzi
Synopses & Reviews
Harry Houdini mesmerized a generation of Americans when he was alive, and continues to do so 80 years after his death.
This is a "snapshot" of Houdini's life, centering on one of his most famous jumps. As Houdini prepares for a death-defying leap into the icy Charles River in Boston, biographer Jason Lutes and artist Nick Bertozzi reveal Houdini's life and influence: from the anti-Semitism Houdini fought all his life, to the adulation of the American public; from his hounding by the press, to his loving relationship with his wife Bess; from his egoism to his insecurity; from his public persona — to the secret behind his most amazing trick! And it's all in graphic form, so it's fresh, original, and unlike anything previously published about this most fascinating of American showmen.
"A single stunt from the sprawling career of the 'handcuff king,' Harry Houdini ('The man for whom the phrase 'kids, don't try this at home' might well have been invented,' reads Glen David Gold's introduction), is the lynchpin of this brief, elegant book. But the authors intimate larger, at times darker themes (true love, arrogance, anti-Semitism) lurking around the outer edges. Houdini is an insecure man obsessed with fame, but also a faithful and devoted husband. As the story opens on May 1, 1908, he is preparing for a handcuffed jump from Harvard Bridge, chafing at badgering reporters and a flock of imitators who are stealing his tricks. Illustrations show him preparing to defeat the handcuffs, and wordless panels ultimately allow readers to witness the escape process in its entirety. Houdini himself comes off as a flawed but respectable man, whose principles make him both exceptional at what he does and difficult to be around. Several pages of historical notes fill in the details. Lutes and Bertozzi successfully offer a tiny snapshot as a way into a very large life. Ages 10-up." Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"A straightforward snapshot in the life of renowned magician Harry Houdini, and a glimpse into a life of determination and perseverance." Kirkus Reviews
"Avoiding overt, showy tricks themselves, Lutes and Bertozzi use clean, simple storytelling and crisp, clear black-and-white art to create not only a portrait of the man but also that sense of suspense and anticipation Houdini generated in his performances." Booklist
"The black, white, and gray drawings are reasonably good...the tight focus on the action keeps the story moving." School Library Journal
About the Author
Jason Lutes is a cartoonist living in Seattle. He has been an admirer of Houdini for most of his adult life, and his celebrated graphic novel for adults, Jar of Fools, also pays homage to the Handcuff King. His most recent book is Berlin.
Nick Bertozzi is an award-winning cartoonist based in New York. His upcoming graphic novel entitled The Salon stars Pablo Picasso.
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