Dennis Orphen, in writing a novel, has stolen the life story of his friend, Effie Callingham, the former wife of a famous, Hemingway-like novelist, Andrew Callingham. Orphen’s betrayal is not the only one, nor the worst one, in this hilarious satire of the New York literary scene. (Powell personally considered this to be her best New York novel.) Powell takes revenge here on all publishers, and her baffoonish MacTweed is a comic invention worthy of Dickens. And as always in Powell’s New York novels, the city itself becomes a central character: “On the glittering black pavement legs hurried by with umbrella tops, taxis skidded along the curb, their wheels swishing through the puddles, raindrops bounced like dice in the gutter.” Powell’s famous wit was never sharper than here, but Turn, Magic Wheel is also one of the most poignant and heart-wrenching of her novels.
“A gleaming, brittle and slightly brutal New York novel . . . each chapter slips us into the consciousness and conversations of a group of New Yorkers and keeps them afloat on the sounds and sensations, the dash, squalor and ugly beauty of the city.” – Margo Jefferson, The New York Times (1994)
“Give us your lonely, your misunderstood, your sexually malcontent, your stubborn provincial dreams: responding to this siren call, Dawn Powell stayed loyal to New York with an ardor beside which that of celebrants like Scott Fitzgerald and E. B. White appear fickle.” – John Updike, The New Yorker (1995)