Eagerly Awaiting

Discuss the latest news and rumors in the magic world.

Postby Brian W » 12/30/02 07:21 AM

Just like plenty of my fellow magicians I am awaiting the arrival of the latest book by John Carney. Due to the expectation that this is a wonderful book, I was wondering what book were you really waiting to be released and then that book feel short of your expectations? I guess the question is what are your magic book busts? ;)
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Postby Guest » 12/30/02 07:37 AM

Kindly extend my education. To what does the American term "bust" refer please?

Postby Richard Kaufman » 12/30/02 09:19 AM

"Bust" has several meanings. Among them:
1) A police arrest, a bust, he "busted" them.
2) A dud, a non-event: it was a bust.
3) A woman's cleavage.
4) The act of breaking something: he busted it.

Frankly, I think most of us are waiting for the Carney book. I spoke with John yesterday, and the printer has told him that it will be shipped in the middle of January. So, it's getting closer!
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Postby Frank Yuen » 12/30/02 09:58 AM

Thanks for the update on the shipping date Richard. I reread the Jamy Ian Swiss' review last night (it's the next best thing I figure) and can't wait for the release. I don't believe I've ever read such a positive review for any magic book. Or for a magician for that matter. Swiss should go to work as Carney's publicist! :) I've known what Swiss wrote for years but perhaps now John will get the widespread recognition that he deserves. He's truly a modern day master of our art.

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Postby Brian W » 12/31/02 12:11 PM

Seeing the many definitions of the word bust makes me think that Sexy Magic may have to be the biggest magic book "bust". :)
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Postby Richard Kaufman » 12/31/02 12:14 PM

Sexy Magic has many small busts.
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Postby Brian W » 12/31/02 12:51 PM

touche...How did this thread come to this? One book that I bought that I expected a little more from was "In a Class by Himself - The Legacy of Don Alan". Anybody else?
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Postby Jon Racherbaumer » 12/31/02 04:33 PM

I fully understand, Brian...big time...

At its inception (as a proposed project), I had high hopes for this book...and it SHOULD HAVE BEEN much more, much better. There were many forces that ended up subverting the best impulses for what this book should have been and could have been...

This being said, I take full responsibility for the book that DID get published; for the book that currently represents a more extensive legacy. Otherwise, there would have been nothing more, which would have been terrible.

As it stands, the book is really a SUPPLEMENTAL work to be used in conjunction with the Steven's (Greater Magic) video. If you read carefully, there is subtext and exegesis to what the video shows and explains.

If anything, Don's heirs liked and appreciated the book. I also hope that others who knew Don and feel that they could have written a BETTER BOOK will do so in the future? Who knows, perhaps I will figure out a way to write the book that should have been written in the first place?
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Postby Terry » 01/01/03 06:25 AM

I said it on Gemini and repeat it here, I enjoyed 'In a Class by Himself - The Legacy of Don Alan'. My only complaint was that the transcript chapter at the end was too short. The give and take between Don and Jon was one of the highlights.

Not to restart the beating of the dead horse, but from previous posts either on Gemini or here, Jon did the best he could with the limited help he got from Mr Alan.
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Postby Brian W » 01/01/03 11:33 AM

Expectations are an individual feeling towards something. Just because I didn't think that the book was what I had hoped for, doesn't mean Jon didn't do the best he could with what he had to work with. If I hadn't seen the Stevens video before I read the book I'm sure I would have felt differently. Don Alan was a pioneer in close up magic and a book about his magic would never be catagorized a failure. What other performers deserve there own book but haven't had it written?
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Postby sleightly » 01/01/03 01:01 PM

I didn't think that the book was what I had hoped for
I've heard this a few times regarding this book, and I'm really curious, what did you hope for?

All in all, John covered most of Don's performance material, both in technique, and in approach. He analysed Don's performances and gave his thoughts about why things were performed the way they were. The main criticism I have heard is that Jon's analysis did not always reflect Don's intent.

For whatever reason, Don was unable or reluctant to give his intent behind each piece. Jon's theories may not be accurate to Don's actual approach, but they are valid from his viewpoint and worthy of study and reflection.

Most of the people who have complained (and in some instances reviewed) this book do so from a personal stand-point. They echo what Brian commented, "it wasn't what they hoped for," but none answer the obvious question.

What do you hope for in any book about a personality? Their tricks? Their gags? Their approach? Their history? Their background?

Jon's biggest failure in writing this book was perhaps in selecting the subject. If he had instead written about some performer that no one personally knew (as in unknown or deceased subjects such as those written about by Todd Karr, Mike Caveney et al), it is quite probable no one would have had any complaints...

Jon had the temerity to write about a subject from his perspective... Whatever the circumstances behind the project, ultimately In A Class By Himself: The Legacy of Don Alan is the only collection of Don's material in print. Yes, there a few gaps for material discovered post-printing, and, yes, he didn't explain the Garbage Can Act (most of which can be seen in the S.A.M. clips), and, yes, perhaps more of Don's voice should have been included in the book, but reviewers have failed most notably to review the book on its own merits.

Regardless of its flaws, In A Class By Himself: The Legacy of Don Alan is one of the best books on creating and presenting close-up pieces (note that I did not say "tricks") for paying customers. It is entertaining, well-written and at times thought-provoking. There is an enormous amount to be learned from this book about performing close-up in the real world, and it is of great value to anyone wishing to learn how to incorporate their audience into their performances. I wish the reviewers would be more harsh with the "teach-a-trick" authors, perhaps suggesting them to look behind the mechanics.

Then again, I prefer to fail brilliantly trying something new that will force my growth as a performer, than succeed in mediocrity by going through the motions without ever considering the details that make a performance sparkle.

Give me details, challenge your own notions and what you have heard. Challenge Jon for his analysis. Draw your own conclusion.

Until you have put the theory into practice, the theory is worthless... Put in the time and effort to validate your thoughts, or at least challenge them to ensure that your hypothesis is accurate.

Trust me, your audiences will know the difference if you spend the time. Don did. Jon does. You can too.

I eagerly look forward to reading the next brilliant failure, maybe I will learn something I can use.

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Postby Dustin Stinett » 01/01/03 01:16 PM

I suppose that I too am in the minority. I enjoyed this book and gave it a positive review. That review still reflects my feelings about the book even with the additional input from other sources including the author. It can be read at MagicTalk Reviews:


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Postby Matthew Field » 01/01/03 02:51 PM

As one of the (several) editors of Jon's In A Class By Himself I was in a position to give Jon some feedback, which I did at the time.

Given the material with which Jon had to work, the state of Don Alan's health and the lack of cooperation of the third party in the original project (Ron Bauer), I told Jon, and I still believe, that he did a masterful job.

Without Jon's book, the printed record of the great Don Alan's work would be only a few booklets ( Pretty Sneaky, Close-Up Time and the balloon animals book. This legacy was, for me, insufficient. Don Alan was the man who made me want to become a magician, through his appearances on Playboy After Dark. A deep inflence on close-up magic as we see it performed today.

Jon's decision to write a "big" Don Alan book and to see the project through the many hardships recorded in Jon's published essay on the matter are applauded by me. And I am very, very glad the final volume exists, for younger students of our art and for history.

I am very proud to have been able to make even a small contribution to this project. I believe the final product is well worth anyone's reading.

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Postby Brad Jeffers » 01/01/03 03:34 PM

A book that I eagerly awaited (for years), that fell short of my expectation, was Vernon's Revelations . Not to say that this isn't a good book, it's just that I expected much more than merely a reprint of Erdnase with sparce comments by the Professor. There is just to much blank space. I expected Vernon to have a lot more to say. On the other hand, Ortiz's Annotated Erdnase exceeded my expectations. This was what I had expected from Revelations and then some! One of my favorite books.
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