The Confabulist

The Confabulist

by Steven Galloway

Paperback(Reprint)

$14.83 $16.00 Save 7% Current price is $14.83, Original price is $16. You Save 7%.
View All Available Formats & Editions
Eligible for FREE SHIPPING
  • Want it by Thursday, October 18?   Order by 12:00 PM Eastern and choose Expedited Shipping at checkout.
    Same Day shipping in Manhattan. 
    See Details

Overview

The Confabulist by Steven Galloway

From the bestselling author of The Cellist of Sarajevo, a darkly fanciful, beautifully wrought novel of magic, intrigue, and illusion.

What is real and what is an illusion? Can you trust your memory to provide an accurate record of what has happened in your life?

The Confabulist is a clever, entertaining, and suspenseful narrative that weaves together the rise and fall of world-famous Harry Houdini with the surprising story of Martin Strauss, an unknown man whose fate seems forever tied to the magician’s in a way that will ultimately startle and amaze. It is at once a vivid portrait of an alluring, late-nineteenth/early-twentieth-century world; a front-row seat to a world-class  magic show; and an unexpected love story. In the end, the book is a kind of magic trick in itself: There is much more to Martin than meets the eye.

Historically rich and ingeniously told, this is a novel about magic and memory, truth and illusion, and the ways that love, hope, grief, and imagination can—for better or for worse—alter what we perceive and believe.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781594633850
Publisher: Penguin Publishing Group
Publication date: 05/12/2015
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 320
Sales rank: 1,043,563
Product dimensions: 5.10(w) x 8.00(h) x 0.80(d)
Age Range: 18 Years

About the Author

Steven Galloway lives in British Columbia and teaches creative writing at the University of British Columbia. He is the author of The Cellist of Sarajevo, which was an IndieBound and a Barnes and Noble Discover selection and has been chosen for community reads across the country.

What People are Saying About This

From the Publisher

Praise for The Confabulist

“A beautifully wrought novel about the grip of illusion and the way we tell ourselves stories to seek redemption, or forgiveness at the very least.” —The Washington Post

“Galloway’s story has a big trick up its sleeve, but his talent is no illusion.” —More

“Fabulous . . . A page-turner you’ll want to read twice.” —Reader’s Digest

“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).” —Booklist (starred review)

Reading Group Guide

INTRODUCTION

What is real and what is an illusion? Can you trust your memory to provide an accurate record of what has happened in your life?

The Confabulist is a clever , entertaining, and suspenseful narrative that weaves together the rise and fall of world-famous Harry Houdini with the surprising story of Martin Strauss, an unknown man whose fate seems forever tied to the magician's in a way that will ultimately startle and amaze. It is at once a vivid portrait of an alluring, late-nineteenth/early-twentieth-century world; a front- row seat to a world-class magic show; and an unexpected love story. In the end, the book is a kind of magic trick in itself: there is much more to Martin than meets the eye.

Historically rich and ingeniously told, this is a novel about magic and memory, truth and illusion, and the ways that love, hope, grief, and imagination can-for better or for worse-alter what we perceive and believe.

ABOUT STEVEN GALLOWAY

Steven Galloway lives in British Columbia and teaches creative writing at the University of British Coumbia.

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS

  • The Confabulist ultimately poses the question can we trust our memories to provide an accurate record of what has actually happened to us in our lives? What do you think the answer is? Did the book make you think differently about your own memories of your past and how accurate they might be, how others might have remembered the same events differently?
  • Have you ever known anyone with an illness that affected his or her memory? Did the novel in any way change your understanding of that experience?
  • At what point did you realize that Martin's relationship to Houdini might not be as he was remembering it? Which of the Martin-Clara memories do you think really happened and which were unintentionally invented?
  • As The Confabulist makes clear, magic tricks take advantage of the human mind's tendency to make assumptions and become distracted. How does Steven Galloway employ these techniques in telling the story of Martin and his relationship with Houdini? Do you see how the Houdini story in the book is its own kind of magic trick, and Martin, as narrator, is our unwitting magician?
  • What is Alice's true relationship to Martin? What parallels do you think Alice sees between Martin, as she has known and remembers him, and the version of Houdini he shares with her?
  • What role does history play in The Confabulist? Where is the line drawn about what history knows for a fact about Houdini, about what some people suspect, and about what Martin's mind invented? Are there clear distinctions? In this way, might it be possible to compare our public understanding of history with our personal understanding of our memories of ourselves?
  • The idea of secrets is threaded throughout The Confabulist. How does keeping a secret change how you interact with the people around you? How does it change your relationship to what the truth really is? Think not only in terms of the book, when answering, but also beyond it.
  • Think about the larger implications of false memory. In what way can false memory be destructive? In what way can it be something positive?
  • Customer Reviews

    Most Helpful Customer Reviews

    See All Customer Reviews

    The Confabulist: A Novel 4.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 2 reviews.
    cloggiedownunder More than 1 year ago
    The Confabulist is the fourth novel by Canadian author, Steven Galloway. Martin Strauss admits upfront to being an unreliable narrator; after all, his doctor has just told him “Yours is a rare condition in which the damage that is being done to your brain does not destroy cognitive function but instead affects your brain’s ability to store and process memories. In response to this, your brain will invent new memories.” The reader does well to keep this in mind as Martin tells the tale of his encounter, as a young man, with the famous Harry Houdini, an encounter that ends with him causing Houdini’s death. Or does it? Martin tells us “I didn’t just kill Harry Houdini. I killed him twice.” Intriguing, to say the least. Galloway weaves many known facts and real people from Houdini’s life into his novel, bringing to life historical facts and anecdotes whilst constructing his mystery. The narration switches between Martin’s life in the present day, Martin’s life in 1926 and 1927, and details of incidents in Houdini’s life. Just as in any good magic show, the reader is left wondering what, precisely, is fact and what is illusion, no doubt exactly as Galloway intended. As well as enthralling the reader with accounts and explanations of Houdini’s tricks, Martin’s version of Houdini’s life includes the Secret Service, Scotland Yard’s Special Branch, the Russian secret police, Russian nobility, séances and spiritualists, kidnap and coercion, diaries in code, a Congress Judiciary Subcommittee, spies and thieves, murder and a mystery daughter. Martin’s mother offers advice long after she departs this world, providing a source of both wisdom and humour. Galloway explores the nature of truth: “…truth wasn’t easily identifiable. You could spot a lie, but the opposite of a lie wasn’t always the truth”; of parenthood: “Being a parent is a monumental thing. You shape reality for another person. You cannot be an illusion”; and of memory: “A memory isn’t a finished product, it’s a work in progress” and “What is a memory anyway, other than a ghost of something that’s been gone for a long time?”  This novel is imaginative, intriguing and ultimately, very moving. 
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    This is a wonderful book about what we think is real and what is not. Kept me reading straight through.