The Magical Life of Long Tack Sam

The Magical Life of Long Tack Sam, an illustrated memoir by Ann Marie Fleming
Riverhead books, Published in 2007, 163 pages

My Rating: 4/5

This is set up similar to a graphic novel in that there are comics, but there is also the addition of  photographs and time-lines. The premise is that the author found out she was related to a Chinese acrobat/magician named Long Tack Sam, and wondered both why she didn’t know about him before and why was his story forgotten? This book outlines her attempt to narrate the life of Long Tack Sam.

I felt the layout was done very well, especially the combination of the illustrations, comic styles, photographs, and time-lines. The time-lines helped keep perspective/context as to what else was going on during that period of Long Tack Sam’s life. The story itself was interesting, and when there were conflicting bits of information, the author did a great job at discussing the likelihood of each.

My only complaint is that I didn’t feel like I got enough of a grasp of the acrobatic and magician side of things. I was expecting to learn some secrets of the trade, and although some are revealed, I was thirsty for more.

Recommended for history buffs, those interested in Chinese history and culture, circus lovers, and those that want to read a good book. 🙂


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