Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Now You See It by Richard Matheson

I had one of those nasty wishy-washy nights after I set aside Lying with Strangers on Sunday--you know, the kind during which you pick up 6 books that you think are likely possibilities for your next read, squish yourself comfortably into the reading chair, on the couch, or the bed; but each book you lift from the pile suddenly loses its appeal. Nope, not quite right. Nope, not an appealing beginning. Nope, nope, nope. I flipped through one pile, fetched another half dozen, flipped through the rest. I was really getting frustrated when I noticed Now You See It plunked on a pile of clothing (figures - there are a lot of little piles, around here). Hmm. Oh, yes. This one was perfect; I knew it from the first paragraph:

Daresay you've never, in your life, read a story written by a vegetable. Well, here's your chance. Not that it's a story. It happened; I was there. Your narrator and humble servant, Mr. Vegetable.

The "vegetable", as he refers to himself, is a man by the name of Emil Delacorte, formerly known as The Great Delacorte, a magician of "worldwide distinction and renown" in the old tradition, prior to elaborate magic stunts on television, much like Houdini. After a stroke that left him cognizant but unable to speak or move (like a squash, a head of lettuce, etc. - the vegetable similes are where humor sneaks in), his son Maximillian took over the family business. Now, some 14 years later, Max is not well. He has taken to dropping things on-stage and stumbling; he's also gradually losing his sight and hearing. Convinced he's been poisoned, Max sets up an elaborate plot to rid those he blames.

As his vegetable father watches, Max lures family and associates into The Magic Room at his estate. The entire book takes place inside this room, but what exactly is happening and who is it happening to? Now You See It has so many plot twists--with bodies showing up and disappearing, anger mixed with sweet talk, people changing outfits, and even a talking head--that just as the reader begins to think it's making sense, something else changes.

For me, this was the right book at the right time. It was a fast-paced read that didn't require a great deal of brain power and I enjoyed the descriptions, the stunningly twisty plot, and the magic. My husband used to perform as an amateur magician, so maybe I got a bigger kick out of it than most; the reviews I read were none too positive. I was surprised, though, as I really did enjoy this one and had a bit of trouble putting it down.

This was my second Matheson book. I thoroughly enjoyed the first, which I read earlier this year: The Incredible Shrinking Man and Other Stories and I will definitely seek out more of his novels.


I'm almost finished with the book I began to read after closing Now You See It, so another review should be forthcoming. You can tell the best-laid housekeeping plans of this woman managed to gang aft agley, once again. I've gotta quit that, but reading trumps housework any day and, darn it, this blogging business is crucial!! After the next review, hopefully I'll get around to listing those first 100 books I read, as requested by Colleen. Or, I might have to take a break to fold and clean. Ewww, I'd so rather read.

Bookfool Whose Mother Is Correct (but Lord help her if she says so within range of The Husband - that comment about Bookfool being not very domestic really peeves him)

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