The Disappearance Boy
Reggie Rainbow has found the perfect profession for someone who likes to keep himself to himself: it's his job to make sure that some things stay out of sight and out of mind. Reggie Rainbow is an angry young man who treads the backstage corridors of down-at-heel theatres for a living. Childhood polio has left him with a limp, but his strong arms and nimble fingers are put to perfect use behind the scenes, helping the illusionist Mr Brookes to 'disappear' a series of glamorous assistants twice nightly. But in 1953, bookings for magic acts are scarce, even in London. So when Mr Brookes is unexpectedly offered a slot at the Brighton Grand, Reggie finds himself back out on the road and living in a strange new town. The sea air begins to work its own peculiar kind of magic, and, as the bunting goes up in the streets outside the theatre for the Grand's forthcoming Coronation spectacular, Reggie begins to wonder just how much of his own life is an act - and what might have happened to somebody who disappeared from that life long ago. Set in the tarnished world of 1950s Variety, The Disappearance Boy is a masterful and dark tale of love lost and found; of blood, sweat - and all the other secrets that are kept hidden away behind those red velvet curtains.
Bartlett is a seductive narrator. The Disappearance Boy is written in an intimate, conspiratorial tone familiar to readers of his Costa-nominated novel, Skin Lane ... Bartlett is particularly good at evoking the faded glamour of the theatre and the brittle egos that compete offstage ... An entertaining routine and Bartlett pulls it off with aplomb Independent This a properly engaging novel, blessed by vivid characters, a fascinating subject and an expertly evoked setting. Excellent Daily Mail Neil Bartlett can conjure up a world like no-one else. This time, it's the lost world of 1950s seaside variety, and within that world he spins a tale of unlikely self-discovery that is by turns mysterious, tender and utterly compelling S. J. Watson This book and its enchanting characters had me under their spell. I was bewitched Sheila Hancock Neil Bartlett's ability to vividly evoke hidden lives is uncanny Jake Arnott One of England's finest writers Edmund White
Neil Bartlett's first novel, Ready to Catch Him Should He Fall, was voted Capital Gay Book of the Year; his second, Mr Clive and Mr Page, was nominated for the Whitbread Prize; his third and most recent, Skin Lane, was shortlisted for the Costa Novel Award in 2007. In 2000 he was awarded an OBE for his work as a theatre director and playwright. He lives in Brighton and London with his partner of twenty-five years, James Gardiner. You can find out more about Neil and his work at www.neil-bartlett.com.