Magic (novel)

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
For the feature film adaptation, see Magic (1978 film).
Magic: A Novel
WilliamGoldman Magic.jpg
First edition
Author William Goldman
Cover artist Richard Huebner[1]
Country United States
Language English
Publisher Delacorte Press
Publication date
August 1976
Media type Print (Paperback, Hardcover)
Pages 243 pp
ISBN 0-440-05159-2
OCLC 2415446
LC Class PZ4.G635 Mag PS3557.O384

Magic is a psychological horror novel written by William Goldman. It was published in the United States in August 1976 by Delacorte Press. In 1978 Richard Attenborough directed a feature film adaptation of the story that starred Anthony Hopkins and Ann-Margret.

Plot summary[edit]

The novel concerns a man named Corky Withers, a shy, odd-tempered and alcoholic magician, whose lackluster performances start to turn around when he adds a foul-mouthed ventriloquist's dummy, Fats, to the show. It chronicles Corky's childhood and adolescence, and his deep love for a high-school crush named Peggy Ann Snow. After seeing the increasingly disturbing connection to Fats, many people begin to worry about Corky.

Although he thinks his dummy is alive, and can not bear to be apart from Fats for a long period of time, it becomes increasingly clear that Fats is actually an outlet for a hidden homicidal trait in Corky's personality, and that he has multiple personality disorder. Fats begins to "tell" Corky to murder anyone that threatens their relationship. All these factors combine and quickly reach a shattering climax during a weekend at Peggy's home in the Catskills, where Corky attempts to coax her into leaving Duke, her husband.

The novel is written kaleidoscopically, changing time period, location, and point of view swiftly and leaving certain aspects of important events unknown for extended periods of time, especially concerning the identity of Fats the dummy in the early chapters.


Goldman had the idea for a novel about a ventriloquist for a number of years before writing it.[2]

He says his editor suggested he cut the sequence where Corky's father talks about seeing Bronko Nagurski making a comeback in a football game, which Goldman had seen as a boy, but the author refused because he was so moved by it.[3]


Producer Joseph E. Levine paid $1 million for the film rights.[4] The novel was well received.[5]


  1. ^ Modern first editions - a set on Flickr
  2. ^ Egan p 130
  3. ^ Richard Andersen, William Goldman, Twayne Publishers, 1979 p 100-101
  4. ^ 'Levine Buys Film Rights To William Goldman Novel' New York Times (1923-Current file) [New York, N.Y] 03 Mar 1976: 27.
  5. ^ 'William Goldman pulls 'Magic' out of elliptical hat', Wolff, Geoffrey. Los Angeles Times (1923-Current File) [Los Angeles, Calif] 03 Oct 1976: q1.
  • Egan, Sean, William Goldman: The Reluctant Storyteller, Bear Manor Media 2014

External links[edit]