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The Illusionist

3.35  ·  Rating details ·  120 Ratings  ·  16 Reviews
The Illusionist is the sensuous and haunting tale of Dean Lily, an amateur magician whose arrival in Sparta, New York, upsets the landscape of this small town on the wane. Dean, a master of the sleight of hand, is also a master of seduction and charm—which becomes apparent as he woos and wins the hearts of more than one of Sparta's female citizens.

But the enigmatic newcome
Paperback, 256 pages
Published March 10th 1999 by Scribner (first published November 6th 1997)
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Paul E. Morph
This is a heartbreaking tragedy that chronicles the events in a small US town one winter that begin to unfurl after the arrival of one Dean Lily, the eponymous Illusionist. What starts with some amateur magic tricks in a bar ends up visiting some very dark and distressing places.

I'm very tired and emotional so I'm not going to go into masses of detail but I do want to say that this book moved me deeply and connected with me on a very personal level. I don't know if I'd say this book blew me away
May 22, 2008 rated it it was ok
Shelves: bookcrossing-avl
Wasn't too happy with this one. It sort of plods along without much happening. The focus is on one character and his oddities. Something big happens near the end, but I never felt for any of the characters. And the end is not satisfying at all. I gave it two stars because the writing itself was pretty good, but honestly I wouldn't recommend this to anyone.
Lois Duncan
Jun 30, 2010 rated it really liked it
This is a dark and disturbing book, but I have to admit, I couldn't put it down, especially when I realized that, despite the disclaimer, it was based on the true story of the hate murder of Brandon Teena. I don't think I've ever before read a story in which I wasn't certain which sex the protagonist was, and the protagonist didn't know either.
Oct 04, 2015 rated it did not like it
An incredibly predictable book that used tired metaphors and over done shock cliches to not grab anyone's attention. I was not impressed. The characters were cliched small town women who allowed a "man" to save them from their dreary town. It screamed of "Boys Don't Cry" with a hint of "As Good As It Gets" and never had me actually care about what happened to anyone.
Apr 27, 2016 rated it it was ok
I read this book for insight into the topic of gender confusion. It was not well written but is a fictionalized recounting of the hate crime murder of Brandon Teena from Falls City, Nebraska.
Oct 20, 2014 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2014
This book blew me off course. Honestly, I had in my head picking it up from a thrift store shelf that it could be the book that the movie (titled with the same name, featuring Edward Norton), was based off of. It was not. Definitely not. An extremely riveting storyline, if not fleshed out enough for a more intense praise from me. Regardless, I am glad I picked it up off the shelf.
Jun 24, 2009 rated it it was ok
Shelves: own-physical
It's difficult to like a book where you dislike all characters. In fact, only character I ended up being ambivalent about was villain. Even in narrative, book is repeatative and boring and didn't catch attention of reader.
Sep 17, 2008 rated it really liked it
Seems to be a thinly veiled account of Brandon Teena's life, yet no acknowledgement made of that fact. Still, well-written.
Feb 04, 2010 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2006
Not, as I had hoped, the novel upon which the new movie starring Ed Norton was based. Instead, based loosely on the hate crime committed in Humboldt, Nebraska (re: Boys Don’t Cry).
Oct 21, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: mylibrary
Darkly woven and wonderfully rendered ... a sensual suspense that bewitches the senses, melding disorder and desire in a way that is both disturbingly keen and stunningly sensitive.
Aug 13, 2012 rated it it was ok
Really, really, really incredible sad. Just... ridiculous.
Eric Rohr
Jun 18, 2013 rated it liked it
Good book, couldn't put it down. I'm a little conflicted about the ending, the climax to which felt a bit sudden and rushed, but I'd recommend it.
Apr 18, 2015 rated it liked it
This book is very similar to the movie Boys Don't Cry. A good read, tormented souls, and the never ending question of how gender is defined in our society.
May 16, 2012 rated it it was ok
interesting, but...

and perhaps even a 1 1/2
Aug 03, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Anyone I've ever recommended read this book was completely awed by it. I highly recommend it. It moved and saddened me.
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Dinitia Smith is the author of four novels, The Hard Rain, Remember This, The Illusionist, which was a New York Times Notable Book of the Year, and most recently, The Honeymoon. Her stories have appeared in numerous publications, including The Hudson Review. She has won a number of awards for her writing, including fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts and the Ingram Merrill Foundat ...more