A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Research Library:
One of the things I did to begin my research for this month's selection was scan the electronic index of MAGIC magazine to see if I could find any pertinent information. One of the things that came up originally appeared in the April 1992 issue. Not owning that particular issue, I made it a point to look it up while at the Castle Library: Low and behold, there was a Michael Weber review of the Dover release of Greater Magic: 1,005 pages for a mere $16.95, complete with a new introduction by Karl Fulves, no less.
It seemed funny that I didn't recall having ever seen it, but I thought that since I owned the original I must not have been paying attention. So, figuring what the heck, I ran with it and listed it in the first draft of my essay.
Skip ahead, skip ahead, skip ahead…
In an email to Richard Kaufman, I mentioned that I had seen this review but couldn't find the book mentioned in Dover's catalogue and wasn't that funny since here was this review of the greatest book ever published in all of magic but yet I can't find that it's actually available and what the heck is up with that???
I think Richard had to restrain himself a little, not wanting to call me a complete idiot, but pointed out that Dover never released the book because it is not yet in the public domain.
Okay, fine, but what was this review???
Richard had no idea, but it certainly wasn't a review of a Dover edition because one just does not exist, that's for sure, he said.
Now I'm on the phone to Gordon Bean: Trusted confidant, collaborator, scholar and all-around cool guy who also happens to be the Castle Librarian. He looks up the issue for me and of the review he says, "It's not there." Gordon, in his kindness, looks through a couple years worth of reviews and comes up empty: No review.
No review?!? It's a conspiracy I tell you!!!
I'm mad at myself for not making a copy of the review.
I email Dover and they get back to me, saying that they will research the situation.
Skip ahead, skip ahead, skip ahead…
I make another trip up to LaLa-Land and the Magic Castle. As it is the same night as the Houdini Sance I have to wait until the after dinner break before I can go into the library. Anyone who has been to the sance, or read Steve Bryant's description (Genii, January 2003), knows how much wine ends up down your gullet by the time dinner is over (the glass, as if by magic, is never empty--amazing). So I am feeling no pain as I walk into the library, go right over to Volume One of MAGIC, open the April 1992 issue, flip to page 59 and--BAM--there it is: the infamous review. I show it to Gordon, trying not to gloat. He's surprised and apologetic that he missed it. No problem, I'm just happy that I'm not crazy. I take a photocopy of the page with every intention of faxing it to Richard to once again prove that I am NOT crazy. I'm not, I'm not, I'm not!
The next morning I take out my prize and reread it. But this time I do something I had not yet done: read the column from the beginning. And there it is, hiding in plain sight, the comments that Mr. Weber makes pointing out that he will be reviewing a few things, and it is up to us, the reader, to guess whether or not they are actually available (the answers appear later in the column). It is, after all, the April issue and the column is subtitled "Nobody's April Fool." Of course it turns out that the Dover Greater Magic review was a phony, a fake, a canard, a prevarication: The guy lied to me! Well, sort of, I mean, imagine the gall of the man, actually expecting people to read all the necessary information! (Shortly after this, Dover's researcher got back to me to let me know that no such book ever existed: Duh!)
So, here it is, nearly eleven years later, and (as I am sure he will be happy to discover) I am the victim of a Michael Weber April Fools' joke. As my hero Daffy would say, "Hardy-har-har; so funny; it is to laugh." But somewhere, of course, Michael Weber is laughing.