Reading Article

This summer oasis was not an illusion

by editor2
September 3rd, 2006

This summer I decided not to enroll my children in a single summer camp or class. We would, I declared, go to museums, travel to see grandparents, read books, play games, visit the pool. Eventually, my children would suffer from old-fashioned summer boredom and long for school. My plan worked — nearly too well.

By the end of August, my 4-year-old boy and 8-year-old girl were at each other’s throats every day and driving me batty. All of us were longing for school to start.

I needed a break. What better way to escape the heat than to disappear into a story full of sorcery, illusion, alchemy and magic? And what better way to have a decadent summer day than trying to answer that eternal question: Which is better, the book or the movie?

It perfectly suited my busy-mom schedule that, in this case, the book was just a short story.

So in the waning days of summer, I let my husband take the kids to the pool to serve as a human jungle gym for a few hours while I got to escape from reality. I picked up The Barnum Museum, a book of short stories by Steven Millhauser (who won the Pulitzer Prize for Martin Dressler) and started with the last story in the collection, Eisenheim the Illusionist.

Immediately after reading the story, I slipped out of the hot, muggy afternoon and into a showing of The Illusionist (which just opened this weekend in Fort Worth).

Millhauser’s story is set in Bratislava and turn-of-the-century Vienna, when the city was the capital of the Austro-Hungarian empire and the center for a budding modernist movement that inspired philosophers, artists, architects and psychoanalyst Sigmund Freud. It was also also a time when “the art of magic flourished as never before,” Millhauser writes. The public was fascinated with dark arts, seances and the spiritual world.

Source : http://news.google.com/?ned=us&topic=b

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