Evelin E Sullivan Dead Magician

ISBN 13: 9780916583392

Dead Magician

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9780916583392: Dead Magician
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In this dazzling debut, Evelin E. Sullivan has written a novel in the form of a literary biography that will permanently color the way we read biographies. Charles Butler, a smug and slightly comical Professor of English, sets out to write the life of novelist Gregory Horace Bodamien: his poverty stricken childhood in England, his formative years at a Southern university, his eventual literary (and sexual) successes, and the grisly crime that brings his career to a halt.
Interviewing Bodamien in his prison cell, Butler learns of Gregory's English father, hounded by failure into insanity; his strong American mother, who kept the family together; his older brother Adam, a talented but heartless surgeon; Elizabeth, whom Gregory courts only to lose her to Adam; and Lizzy, the daughter, claimed by both brothers, whose untimely end precipitates the final crisis.

While vividly unfolding this fascinating life, Butler indulges in occasional autobiographical digressions, brief and apt at first but gradually revealing a tormented soul whose "objective" account of Bodamien's life must therefore be reconsidered by the reader. Yet another account of that life is offered by the manuscript Gregory leaves behind, "The Case of the Dead Magician". Begun as a parody of the detective novel, the tantalizing fragment shows stylistic incongruities that track the author's attempt to tell his own version of his troubled end. In addition to exploring in his story his brother's murder and reinventing the past, the novelist also makes outrageous use of his biographer, with hilarious and disturbing consequences.

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Review:

"An intelligent and ambitious work." -- Washington Post Book World 1-7-90

"Evelin E. Sullivan's novel The Dead Magician parodies the genres of biography and fiction with unerring gamesmanship; her caricatures of our century's innumerable overworked stylistic and methodological tricks kill these forms of literary inflation with a most-favored weapon: humor." -- American Book Review Nov-Dec 90

"Evelin Sullivan is a daring, adventurous writer who works in a luminous, compelling prose." -- Gilbert Sorrentino

"Evelin Sullivan's fancy prose style has been compared to Nabokov's before, and . . . it will be again." -- New York Times Book Review

"The Dead Magician leaves the reader with some serious, enduring questionswhat is the relationship between a biographer's personal life and the character portrait he presents? Can any individual know another through the lens of biography? But it's also a great deal of fun. Sullivan's novel is appealing on both an intellectual and emotional level. Butler is charming, but a nerd; erudite, but filled with self-pity; arrogant, but humorous. . . . You're sure to enjoy a novel that inaugurates a career begun with clat." -- Standford Daily 12-6-89

From Library Journal:

To complete his literary biography of G. H. Bodamien is Charles Butler's Jamesian quest. Bodamien the murderer, formerly Bodamien the renowned writer, is imprisoned for killing his brother, and Charles (an English professor) can only extract the truth of his life and motives through a series of tedious interviews. But is the resulting biography actually the truth? Certainty dissolves for both Charles and the reader as the novel pro gresses, especially in light of Boda mien's final manuscript, The Case of the Dead Magician, furnished here in its teasingly incomplete form. Sullivan's first novel is a congested text offering a multitude of plot and a minimum of re ward. Devotees of the detective genre may want to wade through its slow ex position to the later chapters, but most readers simply will not persevere.
-Paul E. Hutchison, Pennsylvania State Univ., University Park
Copyright 1989 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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