MAGIC TIME by Doug Marlette
Kirkus Star


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A middle-aged New York columnist re-explores a personal tragedy that occurred during the Civil Rights era.

The son of Judge Mitchell Ransom has been in New York for some time, a rising star in the newspaper business. Yet Carter Ransom is going home to Troy, Miss. Four people died in a church bombing in 1965, among them the love of Carter’s life. Now roughly 30 years later, the ghosts of Mississippi are awakened once again. Marlette (The Bridge, 2001), a Pulitzer-winning editorial cartoonist, blends the events leading up to the original bombing with the modern-day trial of a Klan leader who may have ordered the attack. Using an intriguing cast of characters past and present, Marlette sets the stage for an intricate story of love, struggle and terror. The past unfolds as if the reader were sharing the moment. Change is in the air, but so is fear. Carter’s best friend, Elijah Knight, is leading the drive to register black voters. Unable to handle the rigidity of law school and the shadow of his father, Carter is adrift. Sarah Solomon, a Barnard girl from New York, has joined the movement. She and Carter first meet at Magic Time, a legendary blues joint long faded into the overgrown honeysuckle. Two young people believe they can change the world. It is a poignant and beautiful courtship, but it ends in tragedy. Marlette uses Carter’s past experience to explore similar tension in the modern world. There is unrest in New York following a terrorist attack. Questions arise about Mitchell Ransom’s actions in the 1965 bombing trial. Carter finds himself questioning all that has ever mattered to him. For a news columnist from New York, the only way to confront the demons of the past is to force them to speak. Marlette sets a harmonic tone, both glorious and deeply moving.

Perfectly captures a time of epic change. An exceptional work of Southern fiction.

Pub Date: Sept. 19th, 2006
ISBN: 0-374-20001-7
Page count: 496pp
Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15th, 2006