April 17, 2014

ACT III: Carter Beats the Devil book review {by Glen David Gold}

           
Carter Beats the devil book review
Title: Carter Beats the Devil  
Author: Glen David Gold
Pages: 672 {Paperback}
Published: September 18th 2012 {first published 2001}
Publisher: Hyperion
Genre: Historical Mystery Thriller Novel
Recommended for: 16 +
Awards:  Guardian First Book Award Nominee 2001 
Our Rating: 4.5 stars!




SUMMARY:  Set against the backdrop of early 20th-century San Francisco during the heyday of such legendary illusionists and escape artists as Harry Houdini, this thoroughly entertaining debut by an amateur magician with an M.F.A. in creative writing is a fanciful pastiche of history, fantasy and romance. The plot turns around the questionable circumstances surrounding scandal-beleaguered President Warren Harding's unexpected death on August 2, 1923, shortly after appearing on stage with the magician Carter the Great in San Francisco.
Marvelously layered between flashbacks romanticizing the real Charles Carter's early years on and off the stage, the saga has the dash of Harold Robbins and the sweep and erudition of E.L. Doctorow. As it unfolds as both mystery and historical romance, readers, long before the conclusion will be torn between the pull of the suspense and wanting the epic to go on forever.
 --Publishers Weekly



**Don't forget to read ACT I and ACT II or our Carter Beats the Devil book club meeting if you haven't already!


OUR REVIEW:
What were our overall thoughts on the book?  
I think the perfect way to sum up the way our group felt about this story is when one of our members told us that after she finished the book, she hugged her copy of Carter Beats the Devil with tears in her eyes and re-read her favorite quote:

“He thought of the boys and girls who looked for sweethearts at Mountain View Cemetery, and chorus girls who met their beaux behind scrim, and office romances that flourished in the buildings on Market Street, and he felt like there were little lights in alcoves here and there across the city, in cozy dens, in doorways during rainstorms, or even a chilly balcony on the Ferry building. Everywhere, little pairs of glowing lights. When you walked a city, wherever you looked, someone had probably fallen in love.” 

Carter Beats the Devil


This story stirred up a special memory for her and her sweetheart in San Francisco and did the same for the rest of us in other various ways.  For some Carter Beats the Devil is now their favorite book of all time.  For others it's a reason to read the book all over again and discover all the little secrets and mysteries we missed the first go around.  It was apparent that Glen David Gold poured his heart and soul into the research of the book and his attention to detail is what makes this historical fiction such a joy to read.  The 4.5 start review speaks for itself.  It might have started off slow in the beginning, but definitely worth the wait and 600+ read to get to an incredible ending, or should I say...endings?
Carter beats the devil book club
Who was our favorite character?  

Like Carter, we were drawn to Annabelle and Phoebe, both extremely strong and independent women.  Unfortunately, we were not able to see into Annabelle and Carter's relationship as deeply as we would have liked, but author had a lot of story to tell and focused more on Phoebe and her influence on Carter.
It was Carter's entire goal and lifelong career to bring wonder and excitement into other's lives with his performances and his magic, and what better character than Phoebe to give that to Carter in return...ironically, the one person who could not fully enjoy and experience Carter's illusions. 

“She knew him. Somehow. And wasn't that quite marvelous?” 

After the tragedy that Carter experienced and not wanting to admit how broken and numb he was, each new moment he had with Phoebe was like awakening a new sense, and hearing, feeling, and smelling his surroundings for the first time.

"It was still a sunny day, a little humid and breezy, and Phoebe walked with her head tilted slightly upward, as if to catch both the sun and every scent.  Carter closed his eyes too.  He heard calliope music and shouts from distant rides, and he smelled popcorn and burned sugar."
 The descriptive details that the author gave were beautiful and for a character to have a full sense missing, to the reader, it didn't feel like anything was missing at all.  

What did we not enjoy about this book?
The horror that Carter and his brother experienced as children at the hand of the gardner while their father was away on business was difficult to stomach. Children being physically abused and neglected was painful to read about.  Some mentioned that it wasn't a necessary part of the story and were confused at how it related, but after some discussion it was apparent this event changed Carter forever. Carter used magic as a way to turn back the darkness and made it his goal in life to bring happiness and wonder to his friends and to his audiences.  Because of his father's lack of belief in him as a child, Carter spent the rest of his life and career trying to prove himself and this seemed to drive his need to perform, to be trusted and believed, and to find his own way in life with the calling that took hold of him at such an early age.
"It was in the words his father used that Charles found a swell of unexpected freedom. He wasn't just a rich man's son; he was a master conjurer. "

What were some major themes throughout the story?

1.) Inventions/Technology--Among a story of magic and illusions it was quite fitting that the inventor of the television, Philo Farnsworth was such an integral part of the book (plus the fact that he spent some time going to school at BYU where some of our members graduated.)  He had grand ideas for television:


"This is about keeping world peace. Forever. We set up captive balloons to carry the transmission signals around the globe. And if someone in Berkeley, California could sit in his house and see a man from Berlin, Germany, and how he eats his breakfast, how could they kill each other then?"
Carter Beats the Devil book club, book review

Philo Farnsworth, photographed by The Chronicle showing off his invention for the first time, didn't hold on to his patents, selling them to RCA Victor for $1 million in 1939. 
Chronicle Photo, 1928


In our discussion, we wondered if Philo would have been disappointed in the way that television is being used today.  The world has in certain areas strayed from his vision of peace and education and has used the television in ways that Philo had never even dreamed of.  
In a 1996 videotaped interview by the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences, available on YouTube, Elma Farnsworth recounts Philo's change of heart about the value of television, after seeing how it showed man walking on the moon, in real time, to millions of viewers:
Interviewer: The image dissector was used to send shots back from the moon to earth.
Elma Farnsworth: Right.
Interviewer: What did Phil think of that?
Elma Farnsworth: We were watching it, and, when Neil Armstrong landed on the moon, Phil turned to me and said, "Pem, this has made it all worthwhile." Before then, he wasn't too sure.
--Wikipedia

Carter Beats the Devil

 2.) Impossible Escapes-- Even though Carter left the great escapes to Houdini, he showed time and time again his talent at getting himself out of impossible places under extreme amounts of stress.  From the time he was locked in a torture chamber as a child, to the unlucky event he gets kidnapped and handcuffed in a packing crate, to finally his face with life, death, and the devil, Carter learns of his strength and will to survive within himself.



Conclusion:
The little mysteries built upon the bigger ones creating a large puzzle of "epic-ness "made beating the devil in the end oh so sweet in this hypnotizing story. Light prevailed over darkness and the intensity and the build up of the ending mixed with historical facts made for one fascinating adventure we won't soon forget.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: 
Carter Beats the DevilGlen David Gold was born on January 1, 1964. He is married to Alice Sebold, the author of The Lovely Bones and Lucky. The couple lives in San Francisco, California. His next novel, Sunnyside is based on the troubled genius that was Charlie Chaplin. His short stories, including "The Tears of Squonk," have appeared in a number of issues ofMcSweeney's.

Gold wrote a single episode of the cartoon showHey Arnold, in which title character Arnold stages an amateur magic show and "disappears" his friend Helga, who escapes during the trick, causing Arnold and the others to think she really has disappeared. The episode aired in 1997.

Gold has also ventured into comic books, writing a short story featuring Will Eisner's classic creation, The Spirit, the story, entitled 'One Hundred!' features artwork by Eduardo Risso and appeared in DC's The Spirit #13.
 -Good Reads
~Curtain~

*CONTENT CATEGORIES*
*RATING: PG-13*
LANGUAGE/PROFANITY
moderate (references to prostitution and homosexuality)
SEXUALITY
moderate
VIOLENCE
moderate (Attempted murder, death,)
DRUG/ALCOHOL USE
mild
Don't forget to read ACT I and ACT II or our Carter Beats the Devil book club meeting if you haven't already!

April 16, 2014

Carter Beats the Devil { ACT II: AN INQUIRY INTO THE SPIRIT WORLD }

ACT II:
AN INQUIRY INTO THE SPIRIT WORLD
{Read ACT I HERE if you missed it}


After we all ate to our hearts content, we met in the living room and watched a slideshow that Kate put together of all the actual characters from the book. Half of us who read the book didn't even realize that almost all the characters mentioned were REAL people! It was fascinating to see what each character looked like.
If you too want to be amazed, you can view Kate's SMILEBOX SLIDE SHOW for yourself!
Carter Beats the Devil Slide Show
You can see the slide show playing in the background. We set it on loop so we could chat and watch at the same time.


Carter Beats the Devil Book Club Ideas
Kate had tons of these gorgeous Carter posters printed and then attached them to some foam core. They really set mood and were great visual eye candy.
Such beautiful sisters.
 Kate's sister Bethany created the stunning turban that Kate is wearing to represent Carter.
Right when we thought we were getting ready to discuss the book we were all told to gather in the kitchen to await an I L L U S I O N!
Suddenly, THE DEVIL appeared out from around the corner leering at all of us with those crazy eyes!
Carter beats the devil cocktail
Angie surprised us all by coming dressed up as the Devil!
carter beats the devil cocktail
You can watch the Devils/Angie's performance below!
My favorite part is when the Angie gets so animated telling us about how her body was boiling and bubbling in the magic water that her stache just couldn't hold on any longer. ;)
video

video


Carter beats the devil bookclub
If you wish to preform this illusion for your book club crowd, download everything you need to know about it HERE.

After our visit from the Devil, we sat back down with our CARTER COCKTAILS in hand to finally dive into our discussion. Then we heard Kate speak the infamous like from the book,

"I NEED A VOLUNTEER...
WILL THE SMARTEST PERSON IN THE AUDIENCE PLEASE COME ONSTAGE?"

Kate then passed out playing cards to each of us  before having her volunteer, Jenny, assist with her magic trick. She asked  Jenny what card she held in her hand. Jenny showed us that she had the queen of hearts. Kate miraculously conjured Jenny's card out of another members book who had NO idea how it got there! ASTOUNDING!!
Carter beats the devil prize
Jenny won a book of magic, a magic trick to practice with and some playing cards.
For our discussion, Kate brought her magic hat that held all sorts of tricky trinkets inside! She put her arm in up to her elbow and would pulled out different objects that represented characters, objects from the book and discussion questions.
carter beats the devil book club
FIRST OBJECT TO BE PULLED OUT OF THE HAT: A PAIR OF DARK GLASSES.
The glasses represented Pheobe and the roll she played in Carter's life and the roll she played in the story.

SECOND OBJECT TO BE PULLED OUT OF THE HAT: A GOLD COIN.
The coin represented how magic affected and changed Carter's life. (Kate then read a quote from a reporter who interviewed Carter when she asked him why he did magic. The quote can be found on pg. 198 in the hardback edition.)

Photo Source: Read Literature
Many of us had questions about the wine bottle label and how to see the hidden messages so I attached the image from the book so you can see just how tricky Carter really was.
This is an example of one of the secret codes buried in the logo above
Carter Beats the Devil book club
THANK YOU KATE for bringing the magic, illusion and fun to this amazing book club meeting!
This was a night and book that I won't soon forget.

Have I intrigued you enough to want to read the book yet?
(Nod your head forwards)
Buy this BOOK , thank me later and read for yourself why we loved it so much.
~INTERVAL~
"Puisque toutes les créatures sont au fond des frères, il faut traiter vos bêtes comme vous traitez vos amis."
 
Read ACT III if you wish to finish the show!

April 15, 2014

Carter Beats the Devil { ACT I: METAMORPHOSIS }

Carter Beats the Devil posters
 "The most beautiful experience we can have is the mysterious. It is the fundamental emotion which stands at the cradle of true art and true science. Whoever does not know it and can no longer wonder, no longer marvel, is as good as dead, and his eyes are dimmed."
-Albert Einstein
(Taken from Carter Beats the Devil)

Carter Beats the Devil
I'd say our members, Kate and Angie, recreated the book cover pretty accurately wouldn't you?
(I cannot stop laughing at Angie's devilish stache!!)
 
This Books Moderator was...
KATE!
Kate works at an art gallery in downtown Salt Lake, she especially loves planning and coordinating the galleries events, such as the gallery strolls.  She loves to fill her free time to the fullest with traveling, attending fun events around town, crafting, being in the beautiful outdoors and, of course, reading!
You can see all of Kate's travels, parties and more on her beautiful blog.

*As Moderator, Kate planned the entire evening, came up with the décor, menu, prize, discussion questions, as well as photographing the majority of the photos in this post.
THANK YOU KATE!
 
 
 Now, on with the show...
 
 
 
CURRAN THEATRE
"THE GOLDEN DOME BY THE GOLDEN GATE"
SAN FRANCISCO, CALIFORNIA
 
Thursday, August 2nd, 1923, at 8 o' clock p.m.
MUST END TONIGHT    COME SEE TONIGHT     WILL END TONIGHT
 
CARTER THE GREAT
-AND HIS FULL COMPANY-
 
Returning from a triumphant tour to the far reaches of the globe,
in three acts of mayhem,
magic & mystery!
 
THIS WEEKS PROGRAMME FOR THE BLOG
 
OVERTURE
 
ACT I:
METAMORPHOSIS
A cascade of thrilling illusions:
Metempsychosis, Fly-to, Gone!, the Enchanted Cottage, a Night in Old China, and the Sacred Mystery of the Elephant.
carter beats the devil
A few table details
carter beats the devil
Photo Credit: Kate Johns
 
BEHOLD...
THE MOST FANTASTIC FOOOOOOOOD!!!
Carter Beats the Devil Food ideas
Photo Credit: Kate Johns
 
carter beatsthe devil, Tug the elephant
Photo Credit: Kate Johns
carter beats the devil book menu
Carter Beats the Devil food ideas
Download Robins scrumptious Recipe for Houdini Zucchini for your next get together.
carter beats the devil food
Photo Credit: Kate Johns
 
babys baked potatoes from carter beats the devil
Photo Credit: Kate Johns
 
book club for carter beats the devil
 
Photo Credit: Kate Johns
Jenny made the caramel popcorn that went inside these gorgeous bags that Kate has owned for years but said she FINALLY found the perfect use for them.


I have never read a work of fiction more packed with interesting information and detail on magic tricks and illusions, inventions, historical facts combined with such colorful characters, both real and fictional, a fast paced plot along with great bits of humor.

DOES CARTER BEAT THE DEVIL??
YOU'LL HAVE TO READ IT FOR YOURSELF TO FIND OUT!
 
~INTERVAL~
ORCHESTRA $8.00 / CIRCLE $6.00 / PIT $5.00 / 1ST GALLERY $3.50 / 2ND GALLERY $2.50.
NO STANDING ROOM TICKETS. NO REFUNDS. NO SEATING OF LATE ARRIVALS.
 
 
ACT II:
AN INQUIRY INTO THE SPIRIT WORLD
CHECK BACK ON WEDNESDAY TO SEE THE REST OF THE PHOTOS FROM OUR MAGICAL MEETING.

April 11, 2014

Looks from Books: Carter Beats the Devil



Looks for books, carter beats the devil

Hi I'm Jacque from Looks by Lovelies and we are going to begin collaborating with  Delicious Reads on a monthly basis to bring you Looks from Books - a series of inspired looks from the books we are reading on Delicious Reads.



Our latest book club read, Carter Beats the Devil is a fictional story based on a real magician named Charles Carter who lived in the 1920's. This book is full of magic, mystery and love and it will keep you on the edge of your seat until the end. I decided to mix sparkly pieces like these shoes and skirt for a magical feel with a pop of red to create this book inspired look. Love, Jacque 






Sequin Skirt - Target (similar)
Silver Peep Toe Heels - Enzo Angiolini (similar)
Blazer - Nordstrom (similar)
Red Blouse - Nordstrom Rack (similar)
Sunnies - Nordstrom 
Necklaces - Forever 21 and Target
Bracelets - Target 
Michael Kors Watch - Nordstrom

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