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Next Wrapped Up In Books discussion launches March 7: Carter Beats The Devil

The votes for the next A.V. Club book-club selection are in, and Glen David Gold’s Carter Beats The Devil was the clear winner, with 53 percent of the vote. (Shusaku Endo’s Silence and Carolyn Parkhurst’s The Dogs Of Babel split the rest of the vote not-quite-evenly, with Silence a few percentage points ahead.)

Discussion will start in the Wrapped Up space on the right column of the front page on March 7, with the usual daily topic plus a livechat to follow.


Carter Beats The Devil is Glen David Gold’s debut novel, which drew heavy praise from the likes of Michael Chabon and Jonathan Franzen when it was first published in 2001. It tells the life story of Charlie Carter, a.k.a. Carter The Great, a stage magician whose August, 1923 show may or may not have had something to do with the abrupt death of a president; after laying out the details of the fatal show, Gold looks back into Carter’s childhood and what brought him to magic. It’s part historical novel (based on the story of an actual magician), part thriller, and part crime procedural, and it made our Best Books Of The ’00s list, with this description:

Popcorn fiction and historical fiction were both sneered at more often than not in the ’00s, as poorly written tales of the secret history of everything overwhelmed the bestseller charts. Enter Gold’s debut novel, a romp through early 20th-century San Francisco and the world of vaudevillian magic that makes few claims to historical veracity, and rockets along like the best page-turners. But Gold’s novel is about more than how a sad magician finds love and constructs the ultimate illusion while avoiding assassins and those who suspect him of killing the president. It’s also about moving on past crippling loss, overcoming depression, and learning how to feel again. Gold’s pacing makes Carter easy to read, but his sense of emotion makes it take up space in the heart.

We’ll post a reminder here in a couple of weeks. Enjoy the book!

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