The Monday Evening Book Club will meet April 13 at 7 pm in Forsyth Hall. We will discuss the novel The Confabulist by Steven Galloway, one of last fall’s StarFest authors. As some of you were at the event we should have an interesting conversation, enriched by your impressions.
Confabulation is the invention of imaginary memories to compensate for memory loss. It’s not lying because the confabulist is not aware the memories are false. This fascinating novel is narrated by Martin Strauss, who confesses to two things: he is the man who killed Harry Houdini (twice), and he suffers from a degenerative condition that affects his brain’s ability to store memories. Strauss tells a fascinating story about the unknown Houdini: stage magician—sure, we all know that—but also a secret spy for the U.S. Treasury Department, advisor to the American military, confidant of a Russian spy, faker of his own death. Strauss’ story so cleverly mixes historical fact with fiction that it is virtually impossible to separate the two (and, remember, Strauss believes it’s all true). Author Galloway will often take a real event, such as Houdini’s escape from a prison transport in Moscow, and layer on fictional elements, but it’s done so seamlessly that it’d be easy to think the whole episode really happened (as Strauss, in fact, does). The book’s title itself could easily apply either to Strauss (for obvious reasons) or to Houdini himself, whose escape-artist persona, even his name, was an embellishment of the real man. A brilliant novel, and one that virtually demands multiple readings to pick up all the subtleties (especially concerning the end of the book, and enough said about that).