The Trick by Emanuel Bergmann, review by Shelly Walston
Moshe Goldenhirsch is a man full of secrets, a man who has told many lies: some lies sinister and some secrets kept out of necessity. As a child in Prague in 1934, the son of a rabbi had to learn to discern between the two.
Max Cohn is a boy whose parents have kept secrets; namely, the secret that Max uncovers is their divorce - caused by his father's infidelity. Refusing to recognize the break-up of his family, Max searches for anything that will keep his parents together. What he uncovers in his search is the recording of the Great Zabbatini - produced in the 1970s, it reveals the secrets of life. More specifically, the secret to eternal love.
In a novel about two intersecting lives, The Trick by Emanuel Bergmann weaves tales both purposeful and picaresque. Following Moshe as he molds his mannerisms after the Half-Moon Man - a great illusionist - traveling from town to town under the big-top as an apprenticed magician – Zabbatini - Bergmann manages to develop a character the reader can find both mesmerizing and menacing. It's only after years of ardent survival that Zabbatini meets Max, the boy who seeks his knowledge of eternal love.
Max is unshaken by Zabbatini's brusque view of life, and through Max's persistence, Zabbatini finds some closure in his long, troubled past. It's not until the final pages that the greatest "trick" of Zabbatini's life is revealed, and the story that takes you there is as compelling as the reasons Moshe had to keep his secrets and tell his lies.