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Likely Stories -- The Magician, by Colm Tóibín

Intriguing story of Thomas Mann, a brilliant author.

I’m Jim McKeown, welcome to Likely Stories, a weekly review of fiction, non-fiction, and poetry.

Colm Tóibín is a master of serious and extended novels.  He has won numerous awards including being shortlisted for The Master.  Colm is the Irene and Sidney B. Silverman Professor of the Humanities at Columbia University.  My next read of this thrilling author is The Magician.

According to the jacket, the novel begins in a provincial German city at the turn of the twentieth century, where a boy, Thomas Mann, grows up with a conservative father, bound by propriety, and a Brazilian mother, alluring and unpredictable.  Young man hides his artistic aspirations from his father.  Note, that Thomas Mann is one of the most interesting and powerful writers of his century. 

The story begins with “Chapter 1 – Lübeck, 1891.  His mother waited upstairs while the servants took coats and scarves and hats from the guests.  Until everyone had been ushered into the drawing room, Julia Mann remained in her bedroom.  Thomas and his older brother Heinrich and their sisters Lula and Carla watched from the first landing.  Soon, they knew, their mother would appear.  Heinrich had to warn Carla to be quiet or they would be told to go to bed and they would miss the moment.  Their baby brother Viktor was sleeping in an upper room” // With her hair pinned back severely and tied in a colored bow, Julia stepped out from her bedroom.  Her dress was white, and her black shoes, specially from Majorca, were simple like a dancer’s shoes.” 

“She joined the company with an air of reluctance, giving the impression that she had just now, been alone with herself in a place more interesting than Festive Lübeck.

To continue, “Thomas lived in a world of his dreams more than his brother Heinrich did, or his mother, or his sisters.  Even his discussions with his father about warehouses were further aspects of a fantasy world that often included himself as a Greek god, or as a figure in a story from a nursery rhyme, or the woman in the oil painting that his father had placed on the stairwell, the expression on her face ardent, anxious, expectant.  

Colm Tóibín is a master of serious and extended novels.  His philosophies are those of a man who carefully registers all his thoughts and dreams.  Perhaps you might find some dreams of your own.  7 Stars!