Best Books

Talk about what is being written in other magic publications.

Postby 000 » 07/15/08 04:25 AM

Why does it seem that some of the best books( if you fancy a philosophical tint) are out of print/ not available/difficult to get hold of

Shattering Illusions
Magic and Meaning
Tommy Wonder

And then complain that the magic community has little interest in the thoughtful stuff. Just my thoughts
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Postby Jonathan Townsend » 07/15/08 12:34 PM

I'm puzzled by that perspective, 000. The craft of performing magic is related to and dependent upon the larger craft of performing in character - and those books and references and teaching are readily available. There are local theater groups and even performing arts colleges for those who wish to dive in.

The craft of constructing workable pieces is a tiny subset of the craft of playwriting - and again the pertinent contemporary as well as classic references are available. It's also related to rhetoric as we are wont to engage an audience then lead them to some absurd beliefs along the way in performance.

Not to throw shade on the magic-shop grown theoreticians here, but perhaps it's time to throw focus on those larger places where most of what we need to learn is readily available and offered by folks who don't need to fool audiences with props to offer a convincing performance as an impossible character.

Just my opinion - I found it under a napkin in the lunchroom today.
Mundus vult decipi
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Postby Kent Gunn » 07/15/08 12:48 PM

Jonathan,

Pithy, you are the king of pith. I wish I'd found that napkin instead of you. I don't know what 000's question was, but you answered two questions I didn't know I needed to ask.

Thank you Jonathan!

000,

Your sentence, "And then complain that the magic community has little interest . . .", doesn't connect, for me, to the preceding words. Who is complaining? Are you complaining, are magicians in general complaining?

I realize these are "just your thoughts". Could you congeal them a bit more, for me?
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Reason: Question marks after questions!
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Postby 000 » 07/15/08 01:56 PM

Easy to say when youve read them all. Sure Im complaining re the non availability of these books. Allow me to quote Jamy Swiss ( Penguinmagic interview)

'But the best books in magic are only printing runs of perhaps 2000 copies-and the core of influential thinkers is an even smaller subgroup of that set....But I thinks what this speaks to is a stratifying of the culture of magic'
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Postby Jonathan Townsend » 07/15/08 02:11 PM

really 000? The current generation of motivated students seeking those books found a way around the limited supply - which leaves us to wonder about the less motivated who can't find their way out of their wallets to meet the works via H&R, ebaY or via the authors direct.

Swiss on culture in conjuring - via Penguin Magic... no comment.
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Postby Donal Chayce » 07/15/08 04:49 PM

Jonathan Townsend wrote:really 000? The current generation of motivated students seeking those books found a way around the limited supply - which leaves us to wonder about the less motivated who can't find their way out of their wallets to meet the works via H&R, ebaY or via the authors direct.

Swiss on culture in conjuring - via Penguin Magic... no comment.


Speaking as a "motivated student," you are spot on.
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Postby Joe Naud » 07/15/08 07:19 PM

I remember when I was about 16 I went into Hollywood magic and was looking at Vernon's Cups and Balls routine. I think the retail at the time was like $15 or so quite a bit in the late 70's. I asked the salesman why something of so few pages was so expensive, he replied, that it was his life's work and that you get what you pay for. Looking back at this I totally understand what he means now. Indeed, you get what you pay for. You can learn from the best for a little more or buy something for cheap and present your magic in a cheap way. If you spent $100 on Greater Magic you would have one book with a lifetime of material.
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Postby Kent Gunn » 07/15/08 07:43 PM

000,

I don't think there's a cadre of must have books. The real work is in the reading of those books. Just one good magic book, if properly studied will yield huge gains in one's performance quality.

I think Hay's Amateur Magician's Handbook, Elliot's Classic Secrets of Magic and Expert Card Technique (all readily available and the first three magic books I ever found) will provide the dedicated student all he, or she, needs to begin well. All three are available at Amazon, even as we speak.

http://www.amazon.com/gp/offer-listing/ ... 193&sr=8-1

http://www.amazon.com/gp/offer-listing/ ... 241&sr=1-1

http://www.amazon.com/Classic-Secrets-M ... 304&sr=1-1

Nowadays with Giobbi available it should be even easier to become a more than competent card magician.

It isn't the books, it's the guy with the magic wand who has read ANY good books and absorbed the knowledge. Don't despair for want of good magic books, despair for you and me. We should be reading and assessing those great books and not worrying about anyone else. I'm going to go crack volume 3 of Giobbi, it is as far as I've gotten.

Pax, Kent
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Postby DrDanny » 07/15/08 08:35 PM

Funny you should mention Hay. Just the other day, an acquaintance at work asked for recommendations for beginner's books. I told him I'd get back to him.. That evening I cracked open Hay's AMH for the first time in years and read the first two chapters again. I probably shouldn't have been surprised to find that it was really well written and told the truth about what it means to be a magician.

I would also perhaps add Lorayne's "The Magic Book......." to the list above. I say "perhaps" because I no longer have a copy, but I remember it as being well written (and superbly illustrated). Prices for 2nd hand copies at amazon.com are all over the map. As I recall, the book was sold at mall bookstores, and eventually was remaindered, so there had to have been a jillion copies. I ordered a copy just to see if it's as good as I remembered.

(And yes, I still plan on hitting the garage one of these days!)
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Postby castawaydave » 07/15/08 09:25 PM

I move Jonathan gets "King of Pith" put under his name a la "Dark Fascist Overlord".
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Postby Joe Naud » 07/15/08 10:14 PM

I second the motion.
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Postby 000 » 07/16/08 12:05 AM

To the King of Pith,
'The current generation of motivated students seeking these books found a way past the limited supply.'

Yes, but were not all as clever as you Jonathan. For the record
H and R Books only stock (nearly} everything
Amazon has one of those books listed at $399
Nothing on E bay at present

But of course I expect you to once again find your way. Clever boy.
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Postby Jonathan Townsend » 07/16/08 10:33 AM

Thanks - ?
Pith: Some will debate whether tis better to give or receive.
Our clever have way(s) other - truly more clever than
yours truly,
who feels like Yurtle the Turtle today.
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Reason: is he taking the pith or pleading the pith?
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Postby Dave Egleston » 07/16/08 02:15 PM

Shattering Illusions - a subscription to ANTINOMY will give you all of Jamy's philosophy on Shattering Illusions. With patience there always seems to be a copy for sale somewhere. eBay - Cafe - Here. If you find out who the dealer is that offering this for sale on AMAZON you can contact that dealer on the phone and make him an offer more in line with what Swiss' essays are worth and you don't have to be overly clever to do that.

Magic and Meaning - $30.00 overpriced but available at H&R

Tommy Wonder - $90.00 helluva deal - available at H&R

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Postby 000 » 07/16/08 11:43 PM

Thank you Dave
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Postby Gord » 07/17/08 12:49 AM

Jonathan
I agree with most of what you said, pith or not.
I came from a theater background into magic in my early twenties and continued in theater after. There is no performing education better than performing, no matter what form it takes.
But there is some magic education that work in theater will never prepare you for. (The angles are very different, for one.)It in here where these and other resources, including the books mentioned, are a valuable resource.

Just my two cents.

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Postby 000 » 07/17/08 04:11 AM

I have been told that Magic and Meaning will be reprinted soon.

Jonathan, what I meant to say is that those, whether those who were in a magical hiatus, newcomers or otherwise do not lack 'motivation' in finding these titles. And you are very clever ( knowledge of magic)( sincerely meant)
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Postby Tony Metze » 12/14/08 11:30 PM

Who are the main publishing houses for magicians? If someone had a manuscript, to whom would you submit it? I am working on some material for fun, but have come to the realization that unless you have name recognition, it is difficult to get published unless you go the self-publishing route. Anybody know interested publishers? Enjoying the forum.
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Postby Richard Kaufman » 12/14/08 11:51 PM

Tony, I don't mean to sound negative, but books are selling like yesterday's dead dog meat right now. Wait. Polish your material. There aren't many magic book publishers left, and our schedules are all backed up for years. It's a bad time to publish now even if you have a commercial name. If you don't have a "name," don't do it. You'll lose money.
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Postby Tony Metze » 12/16/08 11:31 PM

I do not mind negative. Appreciate the straight talk. What is the problem? Is it DVD's? People not reading anymore? Love the analogy, by the way, "dead dog meat." Pretty clear... I am working on several projects anyway, I will wait and polish. No hurry.
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Postby Richard Kaufman » 12/17/08 12:35 AM

Good for you.
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Postby David Vamer » 12/21/08 05:35 PM

Here's one to keep you busy, 000, the autobiography of Augustus Rapp. It's one of the best book son magic ever written, and doesn't contain a single trick explanation.
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Postby magicbar » 12/25/08 03:45 PM

I like the thread especially since I am a pretty avid reader in all my fields of interest. Regarding magic in particular - yes too many products and not enough practitioners. Most books seem to be nothing more than slick, bloated (and overpriced) versions of lecture notes of yesteryear (maybe just 25-30 yesteryears ago) - just products with little more than the author's version of the last guy's material.

It seems there was a race to cannibalize all available material. I remember years ago there were simultaneous Stanyon books out with rival reviews printed for months. There were several DVD/vid projects with the same effects (triumph, ring on string, oil & water, etc..) on them. Many released the same old public domain 'e-z, no skill required' magic tricks with new titles for the effects... why buy the book when the video was soon to be released? Now it's getting to the point of why buy anything when someone is sure to post it on the internet for free? It seems a marketplace was created that was bigger than the market itself.

There are some very good books out there but it seems books are at a transitional point of necessity for many as a learning tool. When I see all the internet material and dvd/vid products I often reflect on Vernon's statement about "magicians apeing each other".

Can we kill all the products and start over again with apprenticeship?
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Postby Richard Kaufman » 12/25/08 04:36 PM

I published one of those sets of Stanyon's "Magic." I had been working on it, and had paid quite a bit to have a fully cross-referenced index done. Somehow word got out that this project was in the pipeline and L&L publishing took a complete (borrowed) file and simply sent it to the printer. No index, no work, and it was missing an important print that is often lacking in most files. The publisher was quite gleeful that he had beaten me to the market.

I'm happy to say that, even though it took longer than I'd hoped by many years, there are only a few copies left of the proper reprint, done in multiple volumes so you can read it without herniation, printed on proper paper, and with an index so you can find things (oh, and it comes in a slipcase, too).

As far as glorified lecture notes, it really depends on which books you read, doesn't it? No one forces you to purchase a book sight unseen.
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Postby Jonathan Townsend » 12/25/08 06:31 PM

magicbar wrote:... Can we kill all the products and start over again with apprenticeship?


The internet is doing that in a way. Stuff put out on the open market gets around quickly - leaving the curious satisfied and the folks who want to learn with the names of the few they can contact to ask about learning from.
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Postby magicbar » 12/26/08 11:35 AM

Yes, Richard I knew you did that version of the reprint and I thought that yours was the one to buy since it made that huge tome useable vs the simple reprint by the other guys. I was commenting primarily on the coincidence of two publishers coming out with the simultaneous reprints of that antiquarian work.

Yes there are good books but for awhile there were just too many at exactly the same price and like what is said elsewhere, not enough objective critique for the customer to use in their purchase. True, there was no traditional forcing to purchase a book sight unseen but due to the marketplace there were limitations and general urgings and directions the market went that essentially drove many (including myself) to either engage in a classic force situation (with sellers utilizing the 'outs' to buy one product or the other) or to simply not particiapate in the game at all. For the most part I kept to the older books and those with editorial/theory for general reference, books by those I've seen/met and liked and generally avoided books by contest winners.

I will say that my comments are more influenced by the video explosion rather than the number of books. I still share the belief that more originality comes out of books via intepretation that the outright mimmicking that results from vids & DVDs.

The critical part of my comments take partial root in how the field went during this time. All the products seemed to expand the bottom base of consumers rather than what (I considered) the top level which is the number of popular acts. The old joke used to be Uncle Joe or Grandpa showing you the same old trick. Now it's some 12 year old with the same new trick.

In the big picture I suppose this is just a phase. Out of the mass will come a few that will catch the bug and rise to excel.

All that aside I still dig this book titied, Pleasant and Clever Inventions which is a 1584 French magic book. It is very practical and I am enthralled with curiosity since it was put out at the same time as the Scot book but is intended to be a book for magicians rather than the anti-craft/exposure Scot book. Great presentations and natural methods too. Y'know the dry soap on the arm to reveal a prediction effect? In this book a word is revealed but instead of soap animal urine is used and the presentation is akin to the best of the Bizarre magic out there. I think the author's last name is Prevost. Along with Henry Hay's AMH and some in my interest of bar magic this is one I enjoy.
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