Carter Beats the Devil [NOOK Book]

Overview

The response to Glen David Gold's debut novel, Carter Beats the Devil, was extraordinary. He hypnotized us with his portrait of a 1920s magic-obsessed America and of Charles Carter--a.k.a. Carter the Great--a young master performer whose skill as an illusionist exceeded even that of the great Houdini. Filled with historical references that evoke the excesses and exuberance of Roaring Twenties pre-Depression America, Carter Beats the Devil is a complex and illuminating story of one man's journey through a magical ...
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Carter Beats the Devil

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Overview

The response to Glen David Gold's debut novel, Carter Beats the Devil, was extraordinary. He hypnotized us with his portrait of a 1920s magic-obsessed America and of Charles Carter--a.k.a. Carter the Great--a young master performer whose skill as an illusionist exceeded even that of the great Houdini. Filled with historical references that evoke the excesses and exuberance of Roaring Twenties pre-Depression America, Carter Beats the Devil is a complex and illuminating story of one man's journey through a magical and sometimes dangerous world, where illusion is everything.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780786870165
  • Publisher: Hyperion
  • Publication date: 12/1/2001
  • Sold by: Hachette Digital, Inc.
  • Format: eBook
  • Pages: 672
  • Sales rank: 216,828
  • File size: 4 MB

Meet the Author

Glen David Gold
Glen David Gold received his MFA for creative writing at the University of California at Irvine and has written for newspapers, film, and television. He currently lives in Southern California.

Biography

Glen David Gold’s Carter Beats the Devil was a remarkable first novel -- except that it wasn’t a first novel. Gold, an alumnus (along with Michael Chabon and wife Alice Sebold, among others) of the University of California, Irvine’s vaunted writing program, was far from a novice by the time Carter was released in 2001. “Like George Orwell,” Gold said in a publisher’s interview, “I had four novels to ‘get out of my system’ before I arrived at this good one.”

Good indeed. Carter Beats the Devil is a literary freak show of sorts, a mystery/character study centering on a real magician from the 1920s and a plot involving the death of President Warren G. Harding. Gold -- who cites influences including Paul Bowles, John Irving and comic artist Stan Lee -- was already an aficionado of the time period. A key inspiration for the story came as a birthday present from Gold’s father: The gift was a poster depicting Carter the Great himself playing poker with a Mephistophelean adversary. It was an ad for Charles Carter’s show, featuring its third act, “Carter Beats the Devil” -- and a version of the poster appears on the novel’s cover.

Gold had created quite a project for himself when he decided to write about Carter, knowing nothing about magic to start. He plunged himself into research of both magic and the 1920s, research that later added evocative period detail (and critical respect). The nearly universally well-received result was a New York Times Notable Book of 2001, earning fans on the strength of its quirky subject matter and simple but layered prose. “His book,” wrote Stephanie Zacharek in the Times Book Review, “which is a work of fiction built around a framework of real-life characters and events, is simply a grand story told well, in plain language that glows with bare-bones elegance. It's a class act.”

Having sold his second novel already to Hyperion (revealing only that it is set in California’s East Bay area) and set to appear in a Chabon-edited issue of the literary journal McSweeney’s, Gold spent a good deal of 2002 touring and doing interviews with his fellow literary sensation/better half, Sebold. It’s clear that just as Carter Beats the Devil wasn’t his first novel, it won’t be his last.

Good To Know

Carter Beats the Devil was optioned for the screen by Tom Cruise’s C/W Productions, with Mission: Impossible director Robert Towne attached.

Gold married author Alice Sebold in 2001. The pair met in 1995 while fellow students at the University of California, Irvine; Sebold said in the Contra Costa Times that Gold "is my first reader, and I'm his. He's a different writer than I am, so we play to each other's strengths. It's great living with someone who is a truth-teller about your work."

Gold attempted a career in Hollywood as a screenwriter, getting several scripts optioned but never produced. According to a chat at the Washington Post’s web site, the only thing he wrote that saw the light of screen were “Nickolodeon animation shows.”

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    1. Hometown:
      Long Beach, California
    1. Education:
      M.F.A., University of California at Irvine, 1998

Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 44 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(31)

4 Star

(7)

3 Star

(3)

2 Star

(2)

1 Star

(1)

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 44 Customer Reviews
  • Posted July 1, 2010

    I Also Recommend:

    This book is just plain magical!

    I fell in love with Glen David Gold's writing while reading SUNNYSIDE. CARTER BEATS THE DEVIL ("Carter") is a joy from cover to cover and was written before SUNNYSIDE. The characters are vivid, the plot masterful. If you're even the least bit interested in magicians/illusionists, this book is for you. If you enjoy books about America in a much simpler time, you will love this book.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted May 15, 2010

    I Also Recommend:

    Wonderful take on a historical chracter

    I'm not particularly a historical fiction kind of reader. I find that usually fact gets in the way of the overall good time of the narrative. That wasn't the case with Carter Beats The Devil however! This book is engrossing and captivating from beginning to end. This book was written as Gold's thesis project when he graduated from UCI with a Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing. If a first novel can be this good, then I am anxious to read any forthcoming novels written by this author.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted September 22, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    Carter beats the rap, the odds, the competition and wins the girl...twice

    Although initially daunted by the length of "Carter Beats the Devil," the novel came highly recommended so I committed to include it in my summer reading material. At over 650 pages it was a little bulky for beach fare but perfect for my bedside table. The characters are well-developed and engaging, which makes the tale easy to read in bursts.

    We follow Carter's story from childhood, when he is first introduced to magic, to his early days as a magician, through his career in a field that is secretive and competitive. Author Glen David Gold establishes the story in an era filled with historical references, including the presence of such characters as Houdini and President Warren G. Harding.

    Woven throughout the tale of Carter's career are tales of courtship, romance, chivalry, danger and intrigue. Carter's first love blooms and grows despite his awkwardness. When disaster strikes, we mourn with Carter. When, later in life, Carter finds himself with the opportunity to love again we're compelled to cheer him on in his efforts at romance.

    Carter is a man who consistently strives to do the right thing in every situation. Gold does him justice, developing Carter as a sympathetic character to be admired and supported, even when it appears he may have gone too far in pursuit of his next illusion. This is truly a tale well told.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 26, 2014

    Anonemuss jr

    It's quite boring.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 27, 2013

    Magic As exciting as anything from the Boardwalk Empire time

    Well researched and very enjoyable

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 4, 2013

    Really a great read!

    Love historical novels - and this is a really entertaining one - based on actual events - never a dull moment and never know what comes next!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 11, 2010

    Great Book!

    Carter Beats the Devil is a great book. At first the size is a little foreboding but once you start reading it, you won't be able to stop! It is completely original, a love story between a man and his women, a man and his craft and a man and his family. You will learn a lot about magic and passion as well as the complexities of relationships of all kinds. It is touching and funny and has a great plot twist. Gold touches upon many controversial topics and digs deep into a few. This is a perfect book to take on vacation with you. If you are bored and want time to fly by- read this book! Truly a delight!

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  • Posted September 7, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    Magical mystery tour of 1923

    The Braille on the cover is a small detail, but is an indicator of its passion and detail. This a wonderful blend of history and magic, drama and mystery and romance.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted December 15, 2005

    Charming and Inventive

    This is simply a terrific book. The story is enticing, the characters are compelling and the pace is just uneven enough to keep you unbalanced and breathless. The interweaving of descriptions of the performances with the revelation of the trade secrets is seamless, and to me, is key to the singular quality of the text. Carter Beats the Devil is definately the best book I've read this year, if not in this century. I recommend it to casual readers and diehards equally.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 26, 2005

    One of the Best Ever

    Carter Beats the Devil is simply one of my all-time favorites. It is a unique tale . . . different from most main-stream action thrillers or best sellers. I loved the way Gold weaved together the tale of Carter's life with the murder-mystery of President Harding in a 'Forest Gump' style.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted July 22, 2004

    Not What I Expected

    This book was very unique and I'm still deciding if I liked it well enough to recommend it to a friend that I want to keep as a friend.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted September 24, 2003

    A Nice Change of Pace

    The story goes from some very captivating pages to some rather dry pages. The ending is excellent despite being somewhat predictable. It's not the easiest book to read, but well worth the time required to soak it all in. There is so much to be learned about magic and history from this book. I would definitely recommend Carter Beats the Devil. Looking forward to Gold's next book.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 27, 2002

    A good read

    The book is a very enjoyable read and it draws you into the story. You want to return to it and discover what comes next. It's a long book and uneven in parts. It's set in the 1920s but the language is modern.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted November 21, 2002

    Gold produces a gem

    Oprah Clubbers and Rippa Readers beware: this novel is an instant classic with substance. Gold doesn't rely on artifice and the illusion of literary talent as crowd-pleasing authors do. He's the real deal.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted August 30, 2002

    Best book this year

    "Carter Beats the Devil" by Glen David Gold was fantastic. Really well written, suspenseful, very well-drawn characters. I enoy historical fiction, so this was a real treat. It's sort of a suspense novel, but also introduces you to the mechanics behind the illusions created by the magicians of the '20's, '30's and '40's (Houdini, etc.) It has great historical tidbits about the Secret Service and President Warren G. Harding too. I read 200 - 300 books a year, and I'd say this was at the top of my list for this year so far.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted May 14, 2002

    No escape from adventure!

    A big read, but you'll find yourself not being able to put this down. Friends have borrowed my copy, bought by chance, and have had the same view as mine. Fans of period adventures will be unable to leave the house and go to work! Believable characters and rip-roaring plots. Glen David Gold has me on the edge of my seat waiting for his next offering! Can't wait for a follow up!

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted February 27, 2002

    WOW!!!

    This book was packed with so much I feel like I need to read it again. Lots of book for the money!! Awesome historical information and tons of romance, intrigue etc. Reading this was like riding a roller coaster. Definitely the E ticket ride. Must read for residents of the San Franciso Bay Area!

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted March 11, 2002

    LOVED this book

    This is my first review, only because I can't stop thinking about this book, and I couldn't put the book down. It was a great plot & the writing is extraordinary. It has the same wonderful historical fiction mix of engaging characters and real people that I enjoyed so much in the Alienist. (This book isn't nearly as dark, but it is magical.) I'm adding this author to my lifetime list of 'I'll read anything he writes.'

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 8, 2002

    A Rare Book : Really Well Written and Well Worth the Time

    This is a terrfic book! It's obviously written for people who love to read, not to inflame the ego of the author. It is genuinely rare to find a Glen David Gold, and as wonderful a book as this one is. A page turner, all right, but I savored each one of those pages, every single chapter. The characters are very well developed, but just as in life, these people don't act in a predictable pattern. Great mystery is afoot here; even if one thinks one can predict the outcome, the weave of the diverse folks with such disparate viewpoints into the triumph of the final act is utterly absorbing. The elegance of the prose is surpassed only by the vivid word images, or maybe vice versa? Oh well, it's just the two distinct sides of Carter's/Gold's plain white handkerchief, which in a heartbeat turns into a full blown spray of flowers. But don't be deceived by the impressive description of the magic illusions, or the fascinating plot, or the layers of interest in the action, or the complex characterizations . . . . . .There are deep explorations of the human experience here, which are every bit as good as that of Twain.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 9, 2001

    This is I search hard for brilliant writing!

    It only took me one paragraph to get hooked on this book. I never had any particular attachment to magic before, but I must admit this book has had me fascinated with this form of entertainment. I felt as if I were transported to the 1920's when people were amazed by the science and illusion of the day. Mr Gold has obviously researched this novel very well and is able to successfully reproduce the feel of the atmosphere surrounding the heyday of magic. My only regret is that every page I turned meant I would have to leave Mr Gold's novel that much sooner.

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 44 Customer Reviews

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