Here is Paul Cummins' review of Lorayne's new book from the December issue of Genii. Since there has been so much discussion and interest in the title here on the forum, I've decided to post the review.
As a side note, a fellow named Todd posted a review of "Personal Collection" in a new thread here on the forum, but I felt the approach he took was a bit less erudite than I'd like to see here, so I deleted the post and asked him to rewrite the review in a way that wouldn't alienate some of our readers, then repost it in this thread (as suggested by Dave Prouty--let's try to keep all the Lorayne stuff in THIS thread). Todd also made a comment about the size of the slipcase in which "Personal Collection" comes. The slipcase was made by Dominion Carton Corporation, the same company which has made many of the slipcases in which the L&L deluxe editions have come. If any of you out there have the deluxe editions of the two Elmsley volumes, it's easy to see that one slipcase fits and the other doesn't. My point in bringing this up is that Dominion has in the past made slipcases that did not fit. The slipcases on "Personal Collection," however, fit perfectly. I know this because it was related to me that the first batch they made for "Personal Collection" did NOT fit, and all 750 slipcases had to be made a second time. You can bet they fit the second time!
There has also been some question about whether or not Lorayne actually signed them himself. I own every book he's written, and all are signed, and the signature on my copy of "Personal Collection" is identical to all the other signatures in my books. There is no doubt in my mind that Lorayne would sign all 750 copies himself--he is packing, addressing, and mailing all 750 copies himself, so why would he get someone else to sign them? Makes no sense.
Okay, those questions aside, here is the Paul Cummins review:
by Harry Lorayne
644 pages, hardcover, 6 x 9", signed, in slipcase, limited to 750
62 Jane Street
New York, NY 10014
$150.00 plus $6.00 domestic shipping
Harry Lorayne is an icon, a living magic legend. Thirty-nine years ago he gave the magic world the now classic book, Close-Up Card Magic. In the intervening years he has offered no less than 24 other books on magic-most of them on close-up, sleight-of-hand with the pasteboards. From the pamphlet-sized Personal Secrets and My Favorite Card Tricks, to the massive Best of Friends volumes-and not to mention the 20-year run of his monthly magazine, Apocalypse-Mr. Lorayne has offered an almost non-stop variety of card material to our community. Having written and marketed just two books myself in the past couple of years, Lorayne's output over the decades is staggering to me.
Not only has this output been massive, but I also believe that it contains a huge amount of quality material. Not every routine, trick, or sleight will cater to each individual's tastes; few would laud over every single one of Lorayne's books. I'd bet a case of red-backed Bicycles, however, that almost every hobbyist, amateur, and professional magician who does some card magic has been taught or influenced by Lorayne's writings at some point.
This book, which he, as usual, threatens to be his last, is massive. One hundred and thirty five items ("close to 200 different effects") delivered across 644 pages. The design and composition by Andrew J. Pinard is well done, making the book comfortable to read. Shaun Robison's illustrations are very well done and wisely chosen. Unfortunately I had a very limited amount of time to absorb the content of the book in order to get this review to press for this issue of Genii, but I can say that it was time pleasantly spent, as this is a terrific book.
There are (no surprise when it comes to Lorayne) a bunch of Ace or Full House productions. There are gambling demonstrations and impossible locations. There are a few spelling effects and the Lie Detector genre is represented. There are a bunch of false cuts and a great take on the venerable Braue Addition. All of the magic is card magic and almost all of it, I'd say more than 80%, is quite easy to do, requiring minimal basic sleights like Double Lifts, Jog and Hindu Shuffles, and, as always, Lorayne's self-popularized takes on the bottom slip cut, his HaLo Cut, and, of course, The Ultra-Move. He also discusses routines involving Bob Hummer's CATO principle, and the, again, self-titled processes: The Great Divide and The Epitome Location.
In just the first half of the book you'll find "An Impossible Location," with which you are sure to fool your brethren at the 3:00 a.m. lobby session during the next convention you attend. You'll find "Doublocation," which is an extremely easy fooler for the casual performer to perform for friends and family. Some of the presentational applications of Marlo's Incomplete Faro Control, found here in a section on the "Unique Peek," are just terrific tricks and, again, not difficult to do. I'm almost certain to start using "Take Five" and "Mental Vibrations" in my own work. In the latter routine a spectator merely thinks of one of five cards that are then hopelessly shuffled back into the deck. The performer not only divines the thought-card, but also shocks the spectator when she finds that very card sitting on the palm of her hand. In the former routine the spectator freely indicates five cards, which she then narrows down to one card, which matches a previously placed open (or, face-up) prediction. These are strong and simple layman-friendly effects that are easy to do.
I must mention one caveat. Presentationally, Harry Lorayne can sell a trick to a lay audience like nobody's business. Until a few weeks ago when I saw Lorayne at a Daytona Beach convention, I hadn't witnessed him perform in about 25 years. I can tell you that he hasn't changed one bit over those years. He goes fast, he talks a lot, and he sells every single trick or routine that he performs so well that you come away thinking you just saw the most amazing card manipulator in the history of the world. So while you may read a routine like "Take Five," just mentioned, and think it simple in construction and method, you should see it as more than black type on white paper and remember that if Lorayne can sell it, so can you.
Mr. Lorayne is known for his personal, almost conversational writing style. This book is no different from his others in that regard. Nothing is left out of any of the explanations which are chock full of presentational direction as well as methodological direction; and his well-known "Afterthoughts" frequently deliver additional tips and helpful ideas or other avenues to follow with respect to the routine under discussion, or even an entire additional methodology. The book is easy to read and the tricks are easy to follow and understand.
Unfortunately I do have one grave misgiving about Personal Collection. Given his years in the business, his vast knowledge, and his access to people with comprehensive understanding of the literature of card magic, I was very disappointed with Mr. Lorayne's lack of acknowledgement for some of the sleights and routines in this book. In his Foreword, Lorayne states: "Credit is given where I know it's due. If I don't know the exact source, I do mention the fact that the idea or concept Is not new, it's been around. I apologize, of course, for any credit omissions; it is or they are unintentional." This blanket statement, in my opinion, does not acquit Mr. Lorayne of the lack of acknowledgment that I perceived in this otherwise excellent book. It suggests that he cares sort of deeply about crediting. However, the item, "Swivel, Kick, Push-Up" clearly describes Bruce Elliott's Spin Cut production from The Best in Magic (1956) and there is no mention of Mr. Elliot whatsoever. In "The Magical Gambler," again, a great routine, Lorayne merely credits (along with an unnamed Paul Gordon variant) "a variation of an Ed Marlo (I believe) cutting-to-the-aces routine". The clear precursor here is Ed Marlo's "Estimation Aces"-an extremely popular and well known routine. In the "Special Bonus" routine (again-outstanding) Mr. Lorayne completely describes Daryl's "Diamond Bar" (which originally appeared in Richard's Almanac) process for apparently distributing Aces among packets-with no mention of Daryl's name or the title of Daryl's process. Also, vague, seeming lazy efforts like, "I haven't found this in print but I'm told that it's based on a Larry Jennings effect" (p. 609), or "I believe a credit nod should go to Allan Ackerman" (p. 567), or, for the item "The Unique Peek," which is virtually Ed Marlo's Incomplete Faro Control (from The New Tops), "I think some credit goes to Ed Marlo and John Miller" (p. 170). The use of terms like, "I believe," "I'm told," and "I think" suggest to me that no appreciable effort was expended to determine some specific crediting-no care was taken. When I read "The Unique Peek" I recognized the technique immediately, but I could not remember whose technique it was. Within four minutes and with one phone call I knew exactly who the technique was invented by and where in the literature to find it. So, while Mr. Lorayne is quick to mention his own routines and books by name and title (as is his due-he is a salesman), or to specify exactly which issue of Apocalypse a given precursor routine appeared in, he should, in my opinion, make more of an effort than he has displayed here to properly acknowledge those artists who have inspired his routines or sleights, or whose routines or sleights he is describing.
Personal Collection, aside from what I perceived to be a lack of effort with regard to crediting, is a great book with wonderful variety of fun, workable material. Card guys will love going through it again and again and again. One final note: the book is available only from Mr. Lorayne and it is a limited print run of 750 copies, each one signed and in a slipcase. You will not find Personal Collection on magic store bookshelves or on Internet sites-you must contact Mr. Lorayne at the above address to get the book.