“That Old Cape Magic” by Richard Russo

Genre: Literary Fiction
Publisher: Doubleday Publishing
Pub. Date: Aug. 9, 2009

Mini Review

I found this 2009 novel by Richard Russo in a used bookstore.  I looked forward to reading it since Russo rarely disappoints.  However, this time he did—at least for me (for today anyway. I’ll get to that). The title is a spin on the song “That Old Black Magic,” referring to Cape Cod where our protagonist honeymooned and vacationed all his life.

Fans of the Pulitzer Prize-winning author know that his work always has a cast of characters who blunder and struggle through his pages. We do get this in “Magic.” The story revolves around a 60-year-old husband who recently lost his parents. He appears to be having an age-related meltdown while he attends two weddings during the same month. At the weddings, he interacts with both his family and his in-laws leaving him to wonder about his own marriage and his parents’ complicated one.

I needed to look at myself to understand why I did not appreciate this novel more than I did.  As always, Russo’s writing is flawless giving the reader insight into what makes his characters tick. As always, there is fun humor to be found in his characters. Embarrassingly, my issue in this tale is probably due to the book’s title and its cover, which shows beach chairs sitting in the sand.  This led me to believe I was about to read a beach book. I was looking for something fluffy to read on a lake.  Russo is many things but he is never fluffy. Why in the world did I think he would write a beach read? I will reread this one later to see if he will wow me again. I’m guessing it will.

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