Orson Scott Card – Magic Street

Did you ever think that a white author like Orson Scott Card could nail writing a compelling black character in a story set in the 2000’s in America – a tale about a magical child and race and belonging in the suburbs. Black cops, white victims, black kids not quite rich, not quite poor.

It was interesting to say the least. Not like The Hate U Give but still very interesting.

The Story

In a peaceful, prosperous African American neighborhood in Los Angeles, Mack Street is a mystery child who has somehow found a home. Discovered abandoned in an overgrown park, raised by a blunt-speaking single woman, Mack comes and goes from family to family–a boy who is at once surrounded by boisterous characters and deeply alone. But while Mack senses that he is different from most, and knows that he has strange powers, he cannot possibly understand how unusual he is until the day he sees, in a thin slice of space, a narrow house. Beyond it is a backyard–and an entryway into an extraordinary world stretching off into an exotic distance of geography, history, and magic.

Passing through the skinny house that no one else can see, Mack is plunged into a realm where time and reality are skewed, a place where what Mack does and sees seem to have strange affects in the “real world” of concrete, cars, commerce, and conflict. Growing into a tall, powerful young man, pursuing a forbidden relationship, and using Shakespeare’s Midsummer’s Night Dream as a guide into the vast, timeless fantasy world, Mack becomes a player in an epic drama. Understanding this drama is Mack’s challenge. His reward, if he can survive the trip, is discovering not only who he really is . . . but why he exists.

Both a novel of constantly surprising entertainment and a tale of breathtaking literary power, Magic Street is a masterwork from a supremely gifted, utterly original American writer–a novel that uses realism and fantasy to delight, challenge, and satisfy on the most profound levels.

The Good Parts

I loved the blend of Shakespeare and modern fiction. I liked the storytelling and the nurture vs nature approach when it came to Mack’s character.

The Bad Parts

The story is going in too many places. Part fairy fantasy, part discussion about the social life of minorities in America, part icky child abuse if you consider Mack the young fellow that he is and Titania the very old and experienced woman who convinces him to have sex with her. Reverse the roles and you have Zeus seducing virgins again.

The discussion about marriage and sex lasted two whole audio chapters which I just had to skip… and the justifications.. “You can have sex with me once we’re married!”, “But darling, we’re already kinda married as you’re part of my current’s ex husband’s conscience and since you’re like a bogie he flipped, you’re a part of him so we’re already married so I can have sex with your virgin body!”

I was cringing so badly!

The first half of the book is intriguing and just the right amount of disturbing (thoughts of a young boy killing the baby in his hands? A woman giving birth after only one hour of pregnancy, and the baby being taken away in a grocery bag?), though a lot of it does seem random..

And if you add in the girl in the water bed who nearly drowned and had her innocent dad imprisoned  – makes me think that story line never actually got rectified properly.

Eh, all aside, there is one good moment which any viewers of an obscure show called “Carnivale” would have remembered – an evil priest making “Godly” predictions which actually turned out to be truly disastrous. That was amazing. Card repeated the performance and some of the shine went away and the book became boring again.

2/5 just because it was a good attempt, though not a successful one.

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