Houdini: A Musical
This previously unpublished work presents the spectacular life of world-renowned escape artist, Harry Houdini. Part biography part fantasy, Houdini unlocks Rukeyser's worlds of illusion and reality as she leads us from Houdini's childhood in Appleton, Wisconsin (picking up pins with his eyelids) to his acts under water and onstage. We meet his wife Bess, his mother, Arthur Conan Doyle, and the poet's own Marco Bone, vehicle of voices, spirits, and songs. Rukeyser presents Houdini's shocking congressional testimony against spiritual mediums. She shows his great feats of escape, his complex relationships with his mother and his wife, and his ironic, untimely death.
In addition to revealing the story of this country's tantalizing icon, Houdini offers a new understanding of Rukeyser's own work and life. Written at the height of the women's movement, the musical gives us Rukeyser's most famous lines, spoken by Houdini's wife Bess: "What would happen if one woman told the truth about her life? The world would split open." Houdini's response, "It has. Now I am going after it--all pieces." With subtexts of desire, race, grief, and love, Houdini presents Rukeyser's gorgeous, reaching language and her brilliant observations of the human psyche. The musical will appeal to young bell-bottomed readers as well as Houdini devotees, poetry fans, drama people, and escape artists everywhere.
A recipient of an NEA, Houdini joins the Rukeyser resurgence that is well underway--with the Paris Press publications of The Life of Poetry and The Orgy, and the University of Pittsburgh's 2002 reissue of The Collected Poems.
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Houdini: A MusicalUser Review - Not Available - Book Verdict
A noted social and political activist and writer, Rukeyser (1913-80) is best known for her powerful poetry, e.g., Book of the Dead, which focuses on West Virginia coal miners dying of silicosis ... Read full review