Cover image for The disappearance boy
Title:
The disappearance boy
Author:
Bartlett, Neil, 1958- , author.
Publication Information:
London : Bloomsbury Circus, 2014.
Physical Description:
282 pages ; 22 cm
Summary:
Reggie Rainbow is an angry young man who treads the backstage corridors of down-at-heel theatres for a living. Childhood polio has left him with a limp, but his strong arms and nimble fingers are put to perfect use behind the scenes, helping the illusionist Mr Brookes to 'disappear' a series of glamorous assistants twice nightly. But in 1953, bookings for magic acts are scarce, even in London. So when Mr Brookes is unexpectedly offered a slot at the Brighton Grand, Reggie finds himself back out on the road and living in a strange new town. The sea air begins to work its own peculiar kind of magic, and, as the bunting goes up in the streets outside the theatre for the Grand's forthcoming Coronation spectacular, Reggie begins to wonder just how much of his own life is an act--and what might have happened to somebody who disappeared from that life long ago.
Language:
English
Subject Term:
ISBN:
9781408850442

9781620407257
Format :
Book

Available:*

Library
Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Status
Central Library FICTION Adult Fiction Central Closed Stacks
Searching...
Crane Branch Library FICTION Adult Fiction Open Shelf
Searching...
Julia Boyer Reinstein Library FICTION Adult Fiction Open Shelf
Searching...

On Order

Summary

Summary

Reggie Rainbow has found the perfect profession for someone who likes to keep himself to himself: it's his job to make sure that some things stay out of sight and out of mind. Reggie Rainbow is an angry young man who treads the backstage corridors of down-at-heel theatres for a living. Childhood polio has left him with a limp, but his strong arms and nimble fingers are put to perfect use behind the scenes, helping the illusionist Mr Brookes to 'disappear' a series of glamorous assistants twice nightly.But in 1953, bookings for magic acts are scarce, even in London. So when Mr Brookes is unexpectedly offered a slot at the Brighton Grand, Reggie finds himself back out on the road and living in a strange new town. The sea air begins to work its own peculiar kind of magic, and, as the bunting goes up in the streets outside the theatre for the Grand's forthcoming Coronation spectacular, Reggie begins to wonder just how much of his own life is an act - and what might have happened to somebody who disappeared from that life long ago.Set in the tarnished world of 1950s Variety, The Disappearance Boy is a masterful and dark tale of love lost and found; of blood, sweat - and all the other secrets that are kept hidden away behind those red velvet curtains.


Author Notes

Neil Bartlett's first novel, Ready to Catch Him Should He Fall , was voted Capital Gay Book of the Year; his second, Mr Clive and Mr Page , was nominated for the Whitbread Prize; his third and most recent, Skin Lane , was shortlisted for the Costa Novel Award in 2007. In 2000 he was awarded an OBE for his work as a theatre director and playwright. He lives in Brighton and London with his partner of twenty-five years, James Gardiner. You can find out more about Neil and his work at www.neil-bartlett.com.


Reviews 3

Booklist Review

*Starred Review* The year is 1953 and 23-year-old Reggie Rainbow is working as a disappearance boy, an assistant to an illusionist, Mr. Brookes, whose signature act is making his female assistant, Pam, disappear. A childhood bout with polio has left Reggie short and slight with one leg smaller than the other. And he has a strange habit: whenever the act takes him to a new town, he immediately searches out the local cemetery, where, finding a suitable headstone, he imagines it is his long-dead mother's resting place so that, each Sunday, he can talk to her. Yes, it's an illusion, but Reggie is lonely and, orphaned early, he has never known love. Perhaps that is why, though he's gay, he has bonded with Pam. Or perhaps it's because, in an odd way, she reminds him of the mother he has never known. This British import is haunting in its evocation of a long-gone time and a world the illusion act that is teetering on the brink of extinction. The author's old-fashioned habit of addressing the reader directly in an almost avuncular way draws one into the story and forges an empathetic connection with the characters, whether sympathetic (Reggie and Pam) or not (the caddish Mr. Brookes). The author has an unusual gift for showing that ordinary lives are, in their way, extraordinary. You might almost say it's magic.--Cart, Michael Copyright 2014 Booklist


Publisher's Weekly Review

What a delightfully quirky, eccentric, and lovable character Bartlett ( Skin Lane ) has given us in this novel's hero, Reggie Rainbow. An orphaned young man with polio, Reggie finds himself in Brighton as part of a magic act in the dying days of vaudeville, just prior to Queen Elizabeth's June 1953 coronation. Neglected and impoverished throughout his childhood, he nonetheless has a huge heart. This quality helps Reggie attach himself to Teddy Brookes Esq., a scheming roué of an illusionist. Teddy is used to working his charms on lovely young female assistants, whom he discards with abandon until the street-smart Pamela Rose joins the act. While Pamela embarks on a romance with Teddy, she also becomes close friends with Reggie. Bartlett is adept at portraying the seamy atmosphere promised by the book's milieu, but there is nothing clichéd here. The most touching detail is Reggie's habit of visiting cemeteries and looking for tombstones that bear the date of his birth--his mother died giving birth to him. The character's growing awareness that he is gay, meanwhile, is handled with commendable matter-of-factness. He and Pamela make a winning duo, and the bond between them is life-affirming. Agent: Clare Conville, Conville & Walsh Literary Agency (U.K.). (Oct.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.


Library Journal Review

Mr. Edward (Teddy) Brookes has all the makings of a cad; he's ingratiating to a fault, always impeccably attired, and lives a lie. He's a magician by trade, hoping to breathe new life into an old turn at a seedy theater in Brighton in the lead-up to Princess Elizabeth's 1953 coronation. His smiling, attractive, and very pliable new assistant is Pamela Rose. Needless to say, Teddy has a history with his assistants. Out of sight, but very much at the center of this character-driven novel by the author of The House on Brooke Street and Skin Lane is Reggie, an orphan, crippled by polio, and a homosexual (to use the term of the period) at a time when that was a punishable offense. He's the "disappearance boy" whose job is to be always at the right place in good time to insure that the showier parts of Teddy's act shine. The shifting relationships among these three characters are the stuff of the novel. The big reveal when it comes has been well prepared for and satisfies. VERDICT This is a lovingly rendered snapshot of a vanished time and place with menace always lurking at the edges. Bartlett, who is also a playwright and has been artistic director of a major London playhouse, has written the perfect book for LGBT readers who are also fans of comedy duo Penn and Teller.-Bob Lunn, Kansas City, MO (c) Copyright 2014. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.


Google Preview