Magazine article The New Yorker

Under the Big Top

Magazine article The New Yorker

Under the Big Top

Article excerpt

The circus has long been a refuge for society's misfits; for some, it is the inherent danger of the acts that offers a welcome escape from reality. Faith--the heroine of the first novel by the late Amanda Davis, Wonder When You'll Miss Me (William Morrow)--runs away from her high school, her mother, and the police and remakes herself as Annabelle, the elephant-dung mucker for a travelling circus troupe. Psychologically disjointed (she is trailed at all times by her imaginary alter ego), Annabelle seeks solace in acrobatics. "I wanted to tell her about the woman on the trapeze. How I'd held my breath and how my heart had pounded," Davis writes. "How I'd seen a whole world up there in the air, and the one down here had disappeared."

Ascension (Carroll & Graf), a novel by Steve Galloway, focusses on the travails of a wire walker named Salvo Ursari. As a child, his parents were killed by Transylvanian villagers; forty-five years later, during the family act on the high wire, his twin daughters plunge to their death. …

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