Millroy the Magician (Magill's Literary Annual 1991-2005)
Paul Theroux has created a rich body of consistently interesting work, including such novels as The Family Arsenal (1976) and such travel books as The Great Railway Bazaar (1975). Millroy the Magician, his thirtieth book, reflects Theroux’s continuing concern with what it means to be lonely and unloved in the contemporary world.
Cape Cod may be picturesque and romantic to its visitors, but to many year-round residents it is merely a place to live. Fifteen-year-old Jilly Farina lives there in lower-middle-class squalor, sometimes with her drunken, widowed father, whom she calls Dada, sometimes with her abusive grandmother, known as Gaga. Jilly is without purpose until she meets Millroy the Magician at the Barnstable fairgrounds, and he induces the boyish adolescent to be his companion and assistant.
The large, bald, mustached Millroy is much more than a magician. He restricts himself to a diet of foods mentioned in the Bible, mostly grains, nuts, and fruits. After he proposes a segment mixing magic and nutrition to a Boston children’s program, he quickly takes over the show, dumping the obnoxious, effeminate host by exposing the man’s hatred for children. Millroy enlists the short, slender Jilly, who he has dressed as a boy and introduces as his son, Alex, to recruit teenagers as cast members for the show. Millroy’s program is a big hit until his charges go too far in advocating how the foods favored by the...
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