The Handcuff King

Literary Review of Canada

Can there really be an untold story of the great Harry Houdini?

The Metamorphosis: The Apprenticeship of Harry Houdini, by Bruce MacNab (Goose Lane), follows the early career of Harry Houdini and his young bride, Bess, during their second year of marriage as they make their mark (or not) with the Marco Magic Company, touring through Atlantic Canada during the summer of 1896. As the book’s foreword by Patrick Culliton points out, “The time in Houdini’s life when he was finding his way as a performer, the years 1891-1899, generally receive minimal coverage, despite the fact that they are among the most interesting years of a most interesting life.”

Until now.

But, does MacNab really reveal all? What skeletons, if any, does he unearth as he peers into the past of these struggling artists? Can there really be that much more on Houdini after hundreds of biographies?


Maybe this will sway you – one way or the other: David Ben, artistic director of Magicana, has penned a review, “The Handcuff King” for the Literary Review of Canada which has just been released (March 2012: Vol. 21, No. 2, p. 27). According to Ben: “Part biography, part travelogue, part magic book, Bruce MacNab’s The Metamorphosis: The Apprenticeship of Harry Houdini follows the exploits of Houdini as he laid the groundwork for becoming a 20th-century icon.”

Track down your copy of the Literary Review of Canada and find out what Ben has to say about MacNab’s first stab at magic history, story telling and ghost chasing the great Harry Houdini.

Posted in Publications and tagged with , , , , , , , . RSS 2.0 feed.

4 Responses to The Handcuff King

  1. Bruce has written a fine book. There is so much information and detail in this work, I can’t believe all the research was done in one lifetime. If there are must have books for Houdini collectors and historians, this is surely one of them. I congratulate Bruce MacNab for his contribution to magic history.

    As for is there more information to learn about Houdini, the answer would be yes. It could take another 100 years to find all about Houdini and even then, that might not be the end. There are sources of Houdini related material that still undiscovered waiting to be found is my opinion.

  2. Ken Trombly says:

    I agree with Kevin’s assessment. It is an impressive book,and an entertaining read. I am pleased to announce that Bruce has recently been added to the roster of speakers for the Washington Symposium on Magic History, now only about seven weeks away……and he promises to share with us some of his research that you will not find in the book. Here is a link for more info about the Symposium…

  3. James Hamilton says:

    Have just finished Bruce’s book on Houdini. It is a delightful and intimate story. I reveals a side of Houdini that is rarely brought out in other writings. In fleshing out this ignored part of Houdini’s career, he makes all the associated characters real. An absolutely amazing amount of archaeology (Sorry just couldn’t help the alliteration)

    Seriously, “Metamorphosis” will become standard reading for anyone wanting to expand their knowledge of Houdini.

    Bravo Bruce!

  4. diego domingo says:

    Manny Weltman said after and despite a lifetime of research and study, he was STILL finding out more on and about Houdini….so many layers…some created by himself, others by time and society.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.