Adam Gopnik

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Bill Mullins
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Adam Gopnik

Postby Bill Mullins » January 13th, 2018, 12:17 am

Some 10 years ago, Adam Gopnik wrote a well-received (in the magic community, and elsewhere, I suppose) article in The New Yorker about magic and magicians. I believe his son is a magician, and that he himself practices at some level.

He recently had another piece in that magazine, lamenting the trend to multi-volume biographies, suggesting that single-volume books would be better. He said
In the nineteenth century, the big sets were usually reserved for the big politicians. Disraeli got seven volumes and Gladstone three, but the lives of the poets or the artists or even the scientists tended to be enfolded within the limits of a single volume. John Forster’s life of Dickens did take its time, and tomes, but Elizabeth Gaskell kept Charlotte Brontë within one set of covers, and Darwin got his life and letters presented in one compact volume, by his son. The modern mania for the multivolume biography of figures who seem in most ways “minor” may have begun with Michael Holroyd’s two volumes devoted to Lytton Strachey, who was wonderful and influential but a miniaturist perhaps best treated as such. Strachey, at least, talked a lot and had a vivid sex life. But we are now headed toward a third volume of the life of Bing Crosby, and already have two volumes on Dai Vernon, the master card magician (a master, yes, but of card magic). This season, the life of Alexander Calder, toymaker to the modernist muses, arrives in the first volume of what promises to be two.

While it is always a pleasant surprise to see Vernon mentioned respectfully in the "lay" press, what's going on here? I'd like to think that if Vol 2 of David Ben's biography of Vernon had in fact been released, I would have seen mention of it somewhere.

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Richard Kaufman
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Re: Adam Gopnik

Postby Richard Kaufman » January 13th, 2018, 12:45 am

Volume 2 has not been released, but Gopnik is likely referring to Volume 4 of The Vernon Chronicles (which is a bio) and Volume 1 of David Ben's bio of Vernon.
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Bill Mullins
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Joined: January 17th, 2008, 12:00 pm
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Re: Adam Gopnik

Postby Bill Mullins » January 14th, 2018, 1:45 am

That's possible, I suppose, but in the context of the article it doesn't seem likely.

I just asked him via twitter; we'll see what he says.


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