The Magician's Accomplice: Me and my father in the age of anxiety
Degree awarded: M.F.A. Literature. American University This memoir is set in 1950s Cold War America, a time of existential anxiety. The father who came of age during the Depression became "Big Ed," a self-made actor, physician, hypnotist, and master magician: in every sense a grandiose, theatrical showman. The narrator, Richard Edmund to his father's Edmund Richard, was a mirror in more than name. Under the spell of the grown man he is first the magician's assistant, wanting Big Ed's largeness and command over people. But that role comes at a price of no identity except as Big Ed's shadow. When addiction destroys everything the father attained, the assistant turns accomplice. At thirteen, the son resuscitates his father from an overdose, triggering a long struggle to forge an identity of his own. In finding himself, the son restores Big Ed even after death. As in any good trick, what is broken is magically made whole.