Carter the Great was a prominent stage magician during the final decades of vaudeville, an era now known as the Golden Age of Magic. In the early part of the twentieth century, Carter, along with such prominent magicians as Houdini and Thurston, enjoyed a level of fame that would later be reserved for the stars of film and television. Glen David Gold's debut novel, Carter Beats the Devil, is a fictional account of Carter's colorful life and a reverent, well-researched portrait of vaudeville in the Jazz Age. It's also a marvelous story, complete with suspense, romance, tragedy, and one of the most memorable supporting casts in recent years. There's Mysterioso, Carter's wicked arch nemesis whose murder weapon of choice is a razor-sharp deck of cards; Annabelle, the winsome pugilist who would just as soon give a man a black eye as the time of day; Griffin, the bumbling Secret Service agent who has already failed to prevent the deaths of two presidents; and timid Philo Farnsworth, who invented the greatest magical device of the twentieth century: the television. Perhaps the most fascinating character of all, though, is Gold, who leaves his spellbound audience muttering the simple question, How did he do that? Farley, Powells.com
Synopses & Reviews
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 born of desperation and loneliness, Carter has become a legend in his own time.
Carter the Great's thrilling act involves outrageous stunts carried out on elaborate sets before the most demanding audiences. Night after night, in towns across the nation, he performs these masterful feats, bringing his unique brand of magic to those starved for wonder. But nothing in his career has prepared carter for his most outrageous stunt of all, which stars none other than President Warren G. Harding and which could end up costing Carter the reputation he has worked so hard to create.
Filled with historical references that evoke the excesses and exuberance of Roaring Twenties, pre-Depression America, Carter Beats the Devil is a complex and illuminating story of one mans journey through a magical and sometimes dangerous world, where illusion is everything.
"Audacious debut novel." Elle Magazine
"In his first novel, Glen David Gold gives a top-hat-and-tails performance worthy of a veteran trouper. Carter Beats the Devil is a novel-novel, the way The Thief of Baghdad, say, is a movie-movie. It is all the things a good novel has always been expected to be: suspenseful, compendious, moving, and persuasive. It transports you to another world, and the returns you to this one with a new way of looking at familiar things. I began it with a sense of regret that the faster I turned the pages the sooner I would be obliged to exit the enchanting world that Mr. Gold has devised for us." Michael Chabon, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay
"Here's excellent magic: the hours vanish, the pages turn themselves." Jonathan Franzen, author of The Corrections
"Carter Beats the Devil is an absorbing mystery, full of magic, romance, and history and populated with fascinating characters, both real and imagined, from the great Houdini, to a doomed President Harding, to the villainous Mysterioso. Glen David Gold is a first-rate storyteller, with his own hoard of magician's tricks." Kevin Baker, author of Dreamland
"Gold has conjured one dead president, one blood-sucking dog, a ship full of pirates, and a cabal of Secret Service agents. it all makes for a wild and heartstopping show. Beautifully written, packed with fun, scares, and surprises. And magic in every word." Karen Joy Fowler, author of Sarah Canary and Sister Noon
"Settle into your chair, get comfortable and prepare for an absolutely marvelous journey into magic and illusion. You hold in your hands the thick velvet curtains and the stage is waiting: open up! What a lucky reader you are, with all of Golds world of wonder waiting right here in your fingertips..." Aimee Bender, author of An Invisible Sign of My Own
"I've been a practicing magician for over forty years and Glen Gold has completely baffled me. His historically based novel, Carter Beats the Devil, is layered with accurate descriptions of strange-looking apparatuses, the distinct language used by magicians, and with eccentric personalities that existed only during the heyday of vaudeville. It was a secret world that, by necessity, was closed to outsiders, and yet Gold's relentless research has allowed him to slowly untangle his tale of murder and intrigue in an environment that so accurately re-creates the Golden Age of Magic that one sometimes forgets that this story is simply a product of Glen Gold's devious mind." Mike Caveney, biographer of Carter the Great
"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." Gavin Quinn, Booklist (starred review)
"An enormously assured first novel." The New York Times
"Gold's novel defies the reader to perform the trick of putting the book down." BookPage
Glen David Gold's literary debut dazzled critics and fans from coast to coast. Now Carter's center stage for a spectacular paperback . . .
The response to Glen David Gold's debut novel, Carter Beats the Devil, was extraordinary. He hypnotized us with his portrait of a 1920s magic-obsessed America and of Charles Carter--a.k.a. Carter the Great--a young master performer whose skill as an illusionist exceeded even that of the great Houdini. Filled with historical references that evoke the excesses and exuberance of Roaring Twenties pre-Depression America, Carter Beats the Devil is a complex and illuminating story of one man's journey through a magical and sometimes dangerous world, where illusion is everything.
About the Author
Glen David Gold received his MFA for creative writing at the University of California at Irvine and has written for newspapers, film, and television. He currently lives in Los Angeles.