Written by: Mack Moyer
The Amazing Morse by James Rozoff reminded me of The Wrestler, only with card tricks instead of body slams and a bad guy who might have been Hitler once.
Where The Wrestler showed us the reality of a down on his luck spandex jockey, Rozoff’s novel presents the life of a small time magician named David Morse, who’d prefer to pull rabbits out of his hat rather than push a pencil in his cubicle.
Morse considers his job to be little more than a prison, complete with company newsletters that include bad poetry written by the boss. (Good Christ I know how that one goes.) Cue all the “I’d rather follow my dreams” stuff, which we can all relate too. If it weren’t for things like dental insurance and food, I’d quit my job today to write short stories for beer money and live in a little shack in the woods.
Morse runs into a fortune teller who possibly hypnotizes him. Not long after he starts to believe he’s killing people in his sleep. Here I was hoping for some awesome trickster-versus-huckster action, except we don’t get it. In fact, we barely see the fortune teller again.
Actually, we don’t get a true bad guy until almost three-quarters of the way into the novel. You won’t see him coming, but that’s because you literally don’t see him coming. This fucking guy doesn’t appear in the novel at all until close to the end.
Instead of a conflict, we get Morse’s many ruminations on things that bum him out. Oh gosh darn it, Morse thinks, nobody likes magic anymore! They’re too busy on the Internet! Here’s a line from the book in regards to magic’s failing popularity: “We have accepted entertainment in place of wonder.”
This guy is like Gob from Arrested Development, only his demands to be taken seriously are tiring.
No doubt the author left these introspective slogs in the book because he thought it would give us a window into the character’s skull. Instead it bored me out of mine. Just pages upon pages of wordiness.
And yeah, when we meet the bad guy he admits that he was Hitler once, violating Rule #38-B of fiction: Never use Hitler unless you’re putting him in a robotic suit or making him the main character in a romantic comedy.
Also, the deus-ex rumbles like a shitty car in the final pages.
It never feels like it matters that Morse is a magician. At no point does he fight off demons with card tricks, which would have been epic. Instead he’s just a whiney introvert with an interesting side job.
I think Rozoff has a ton of potential as a writer and this novel certainly had an interesting concept. Though I didn’t like this book, I’m looking forward to seeing what he writes next. This is a rough read, but he’s a promising writer, no question.