Winner, Best Atlantic Published Book Award
Shortlisted, Canadian Regional Design Awardmet-a-mor-pho-sis: a complete change of form, structure, or substance, as transformation by magic or witchcraft.
In May of 1896, a young magician from New York City joined the cast of the Marco Magic Company and embarked on a summer-long tour of eastern Canada, including New Brunswick and Nova Scotia. It was during this excursion that Handcuff Harry AKA Harry Houdini first showcased the talent that transformed him from a small-time conjurer, who performed for pennies in dime museums, into the world's most celebrated escape artist. When he wasn't performing on stage, Houdini was barnstorming through the streets of every town and city he visited, astounding onlookers in police stations, hardware stores and hospitals by freeing himself from the clutches of every restraining device strapped or wrapped around him.
In this absorbing book, enriched by rare, period photographs, Bruce MacNab recounts a fascinating but shockingly untold chapter in the career of the man whose name is still synonymous with the word magic.
"Choyce takes this deceptively simple story and ... fills it with characters who are wry, warm, funny, and magical. This is by far the author's best novel."
"Radiant with energy."
"A national treasure."
"The written word is a powerful tool in Lesley Choyce's hands."
"The writing is reminiscent, both in wit and sensibility, of Stephen Leacock and Garrison Keillor."
"An unpredictable universe ... It's this unpredictability that makes the novel a success."
"A triple-decker of a yarn shot through with mythic possibilities, it's part fairy tale, part adventure story and part coming-of-age testimonial; it manages to be earnest and absurd, poetic and humorous all at once ... a pleasure to read."
"The Republic of Nothing weaves an intricate, sometimes hilarious, sometimes tragic narrative."
"A contemporary classic in Canadian literature."
"The Republic of Nothing definitely has something to it."
"This is Choyce's best book yet ... a reminder that we all need to keep a little creative anarchy in our lives."
"A little gem of a story that should be granted its appropriate label as a Canadian version of [Salman Rushdie's] Midnight's Children."
"Don't miss The Republic of Nothing."
"The fact that the book has lasted for 10 years is a testimony to its popularity in these days when few books retain any life or fame after a year."
"Quirky yet compelling drama."
"The Republic of Nothing is an unpredictable universe ... It's this unpredictability that makes the novel a success."
"Choyce has mastered the skill of an old-fashioned story-teller."
"The Republic of Nothing is the product of a sprawling and original literary imagination, bustling with colourful and sympathetic characters, bursting with fanciful incident, and propelled by a relentless narrative drive. It is, quite simply, a good read."
"If you need a little Zen in your life, The Republic of Nothing is a good way to learn to extricate yourself from the beaten path and find the wonder of nothingness."