While working as a bookseller this was a title I always tried to put into people’s hands. When reading it I was completely blown away by the writing and how it was a truly unique book, one very much unlike any I had read before. However I always hit one road block along the way.
That roadblock being the full title. Mr Sebastian and the Negro Magician. I don’t know what it is but the word Negro instantly and without fail turned people off the idea of reading it. I believe they were afraid that if someone saw them reading it, the reader would instantly be branded a racist. This is entirely unfair to the book. I can’t deny there is racial tension in the book, and that there is prolific use of the “N” word. This is in the South during the Great Depression, of course there are some racists running around. The book however is not a hate book at all, it is one of the most enjoyable reads you can get your hands on.
The main thrust of the story happens after the title magician disappears, and an investigator takes the case to find him. He proceeds to question all the members of the tired and broken down circus our magician worked for. Each chapter is then written from the prospective of one of those circus members, during their stories everyone contradicts each other on almost every front. They can’t agree on anything not even if the magician had magic or not.
I will say this, if you need a straight narrative this book is not for you. If you want a very fresh and inventive way to tell a story, and a book that you won’t encounter again except by rereading. then this book is for you.
I really don’t believe I can recommend this one highly enough.
Mr Sebastian and the Negro magician
by Daniel Wallace
published by Anchor
Daniel Wallace was also the author of Big Fish, which was made quite famous by that Tim Burton fellow.