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Topic: The forgotten Henning Nelms...
Message: Posted by: Mick Ayres (Nov 19, 2009 02:03PM)
In Dodd Vicker's interview with Jim Callahan on Magic Newswire, Jim mentioned that he was given a copy of Henning Nelms' book "Magic and Showmanship" when he was young and the book still influences his presentations today.

I can understand that. Nelms' book is one of the most dog-eared ones on my shelf and is always within easy reach. For me, "Magic and Showmanship" transformed me from a trickster into a theatrical conjuror. When I transitioned from magic to mentalism, it was the first book I went back and reviewed.

Here's what's interesting: Dodd said that in ALL the interviews he has done, Callahan's mention of Nelms' book is the FIRST TIME it has been brought up. If that is true, then it could be a telling statement about the current status of conjuring.

My question is: WHY? Of all the books to overlook, why would that one be at the back of the shelf...especially for working pros?

Mick
Message: Posted by: IAIN (Nov 19, 2009 02:26PM)
I freely admit to never having read it (though I did put in an order last night) - I read the dr. wiseman one about the psychology of magic...but never this...always heard of henning nelms, just one of those books I just never got round to buying...i've always taken my influences from films and books though...not all obviously, but a good old chunk...

harlequin
medusa touch
magic

those three can teach you a lot about presentation and delivery...
Message: Posted by: Greg Arce (Nov 19, 2009 04:01PM)
That was one of my early books, along with The Amateur Magician's Handbook. I considered those books my first REAL books in magic. I read and reread them more times than I can count.

Greg
Message: Posted by: Steve Suss (Nov 19, 2009 04:13PM)
Great book. Changed my magic forever. It tought me to think out every detail in my performances. It should be required reading for any magician/mentalist.

Steve
Message: Posted by: magicnewswire (Nov 19, 2009 04:32PM)
I am always thrilled when someone brings up a name that hasn't come up before. Tarbell has come up quite a bit as has the Royal Road to Card Magic and various Mulholland pieces. The Henning Nelms book is great and I too am surprised that it had not yet been mentioned prior to that interview.
Message: Posted by: Mick Ayres (Nov 19, 2009 08:40PM)
Greg, do you remember Kirk Stiles from our younger days in south Florida? Since you brought up Henry Hay's "Amateur Magician's Handbook" it reminded me that Kirk felt every conjuror should have to memorize the chapter called "The Magic State of Mind" and recite it to gain membership in any magic organization. Always thought that was wise.

Iain, thanks for the tip. I've never heard of your three recommendations either. Can you supply author's names?

Mick
Message: Posted by: Greg Arce (Nov 19, 2009 09:15PM)
Of course, I remember Kirk. We had a club that was filled with some brilliant guys that have been forgotten in these days: Kirk Stiles, Ace Gorham, Morty Rudnick, Duke Stern... and Syd Bergson.

Greg
Message: Posted by: piraino (Nov 19, 2009 09:55PM)
Magic and Showmanship is an excellent book. When I was a kid I had over a half dozen magic books, and that's the only one I read cover to cover, every single word. Great teaching, and extremely well written.
Message: Posted by: mormonyoyoman (Nov 19, 2009 10:07PM)
Goodness, I never have forgotten Nelms! (That's "Smellin'" spelled sideways, sort of.) And his book is so inexpensive too - plus, it's easy to find!

Him, Tarbell, Hay (Mussey) -- with those three for a foundation, you cover most of magic and the skill of acting (insofar as magic).

*jeep!
--Grandpa Chet

(PS: Don't forget Hay's widow's book about Mussey, over at http://www.Lybrary.com with the Grandpa Chet epilogue.)
Message: Posted by: Thomas Henry (Nov 20, 2009 12:16AM)
Hi All,

[quote]
On 2009-11-19 15:03, Mick Ayres wrote:
I can understand that. Nelms' book is one of the most dog-eared ones on my shelf and is always within easy reach.
[/quote]

Talk about dog-eared...

I'm an academic sort (college teacher by day, would-be carny the rest of the time) and always drill my students in whatever they're learning to "gloss" their text books. If you haven't heard the term, to gloss means to scribble marginalia in the book you are reading to explain obscure passages, provide intermediate steps in an argument, cross-reference to other sources, etc.

Anyway, my copy of Nelms has more glossing than text at this point---literally. In fact, for the past 12 years I've been working on an annotated Nelms, but am nowhere near the quarter point in the project.

I read this book when it first came out (I bought my copy at the Iowa State University bookstore in 1970 or thereabouts) and still consider it the most important tome in my mentalism library, with T. A. Waters not far behind for the same reason. In my estimation these two books stand out in mentalism for focusing on appearances, not methods.

Thomas Henry
Message: Posted by: Philemon Vanderbeck (Nov 20, 2009 01:14AM)
I constantly recommend this book to any performer.
Message: Posted by: IAIN (Nov 20, 2009 05:08AM)
Mick - the ones I mentioned were films my friend...

harlequin - robert powell, late 70s early 80s update of the Rasputin story...
medusa touch - richard Burton, author with powerful thoughts, enough to cause planes to crash and buildings to crumble...
magic - anthony hopkins, magician/vent act, but hides a secret...and has the best ever presentation of DO as I Do you'll ever see..bit intense...

watching those 3 actors have given me lots of pointers in how to hold a gaze, when to smile, when to build up the mystery...
Message: Posted by: Mick Ayres (Nov 20, 2009 08:35AM)
Iain, it's been a long time since I watched the film 'Magic'. I remember it being as creepy as the book. You're right, though...wonderful lessons there about presenting magic from an actor's point-of-view. I will certainly track down the latter two. Thanks for the lead.

Greg, I remember Ace, Syd and Morty and others. Lou Tannen and Fantasio were regulars, too. It felt like everyone who had contributed to Tarbell 7 had retired and moved to Miami. Those were halcyon days.

Best,
Mick
Message: Posted by: Stuart Cumberland (Nov 20, 2009 09:15AM)
Flashback: I'm 14 years old in the Arcade Magic and Novelty Store in Toronto. Sophie Smith hands me the book and says, if you're serious about being a performer, you must have this book.

I didn't want it. I wanted tricks. But for any of you who ever went in her store, you'll understand it when I say that you couldn't just buy something in her store. If you wanted Linking Rings and you didn't know much about magic... she wouldn't sell them to you. I kid you not.

In hindsight, she did magic a big favor. I've benefited so much from that book, I'm grateful that she forced me to buy it. :)

If you get the book, and study it, you'll become a much better performer.
Message: Posted by: Greg Arce (Nov 20, 2009 04:35PM)
Mick, Fantasio & Paul Diamond soon became my mentors. Fantasio lived about a mile or so from me and I spent many Sundays hanging out as his place. He is amazing.

Let's not forget that the legendary Millard Longman belonged to our ring too.

Greg
Message: Posted by: Bedford (Nov 20, 2009 07:24PM)
I still refer to this great book, which I bought 35 years ago for a whopping $3.95.
Message: Posted by: Slim King (Nov 21, 2009 02:08PM)
I also have it ... I actually read some too :)
Message: Posted by: JoeBlack (Nov 21, 2009 03:03PM)
Are there any other books out there like this one that people recommend?
Message: Posted by: Steve Suss (Nov 21, 2009 03:24PM)
Maximum Entertainment by Ken Weber
Strong Magic by Darwin Ortiz
Magic Incorporated by Chuck Hickock
Scripting Magic-McCabe(?)

Now days with the DVD generation you get much less theory. There is some theory discussed but the DVD's generally consist of many effects. With books there were chapters and even entire books devoted to theory. Once I started learning the theories behind my magic and mentalism my performances improved dramatically.

Steve
Message: Posted by: magicnewswire (Nov 21, 2009 03:44PM)
[quote]
On 2009-11-20 17:35, Greg Arce wrote:
Mick, Fantasio & Paul Diamond soon became my mentors. Fantasio lived about a mile or so from me and I spent many Sundays hanging out as his place. He is amazing.

Let's not forget that the legendary Millard Longman belonged to our ring too.

Greg
[/quote]

I knew that you looked familiar Greg. ;-)

Did you catch the chat that I did with Mr. Humble?
Message: Posted by: Greg Arce (Nov 21, 2009 04:02PM)
No, I didn't. Paul was my first teacher in Miami. After going to his shop several times he sort of took me under his wing and taught me what to buy and what not to buy. He pointed out the good books to read. Fantasio did the same thing.

I remember being very impressed with Paul the second time I went to the shop. I had been there one year earlier to buy stuff with my birthday money. The next year I went with a friend around the same time. As I approached his counter he immediately recalled me and everything I bought that day. I was shocked. He then went onto devastate me with tons of magic.

Paul is one of the best demonstrators around. Every time he shows you something you want to buy it. And all of the other guys that worked there were great. They could do anything in the shop. I have marvelous memories of the many days I ventured up to Fort Lauderdale to visit that magic place in SearsTown.

Greg
Message: Posted by: magicnewswire (Nov 21, 2009 06:18PM)
That is too funny! That is also where I got my start when I was all of 9 or 10. My family moved to Lauderdale By The Sea (in an APT while we waited on the house to be ready in Coral Springs) and my dad took me to "The cool little magic shop that he'd found on a previous business trip." Obviously, it was Paul's place. In the fifth grade, my Math teacher started offering Magic lessons and it turned out that he was doing so through Paul's shop with discounts for all of his students. Needless to say, I was hanging around Sears Town every chance I got after that. Once I really got my rythm with the podcast, I had to see if Paul would be interested in a chat. What an amazing guy! Being flown to Vegas to perform for Sinatra and the Rat Pack... who knew!! I thought that he just owned a cool magic shop.

If you're interested in listening to my chat with Paul, [url=http://mnw.squarespace.com/magicnewsfeed/2009/4/13/mnw-105-paul-diamond.html]YOU CAN FIND IT HERE[/url]

If you're curious about other earlier interviews, just look in the left column at MagicNewswire.com and click on any of the names that you see there. That will take you to my chat with that person.

cheers,
Dodd
Message: Posted by: DT3 (Nov 21, 2009 06:32PM)
Isn't it interesting how something like a book, film or song etc all of a sudden starts getting mentioned almost everywhere you look?

I just finished reading John Rigg's Compleat Fortune Teller and he brings up Nelms' book as well.

D
Message: Posted by: Greg Arce (Nov 21, 2009 08:46PM)
Dodd, are paths must have crossed at one point or another. I moved to Miami around 1968. The following year I went to Paul's. Actually I first heard of Paul's place because he was selling a magic kit for $10 through all the Sears stores and I lived about a block from one.

I remember going in there and seeing the guy demonstrate the stuff day in and day out. I was fascinated. Eventually he used me as a shill to point out how easy it was to learn a Svengali deck. I remember him buying me a Coke or something for helping him.

When I bought that kit I was in heaven. I paid for it with my own money by doing a lay away plan. Imagine that... piecing together ten dollars in a months. I opened up that box of wonders and was thrilled. Not only did it come it with ten tricks, but it had a booklet of other effects and a wand and a hat. I still have the wand. It's actually a very decent wand made out of wood.

So Dodd, did you ever go to the Miami ring or the one at Miami Beach. I attended both, but mostly was at Ring 45.

Greg
Message: Posted by: magicnewswire (Nov 21, 2009 09:13PM)
Never made it to any of the rings in that area sadly. Based on this exchange, I have no idea that our paths did indeed cross. Quoting a guy much funnier that I, "It's a small world, but I wouldn't want to paint it." ;-)
Message: Posted by: Greg Arce (Nov 22, 2009 09:26AM)
[quote]
On 2009-11-21 22:13, magicnewswire wrote:
Never made it to any of the rings in that area sadly. Based on this exchange, I have no idea that our paths did indeed cross. Quoting a guy much funnier that I, "It's a small world, but I wouldn't want to paint it." ;-)
[/quote]

Well, we might be distant cousins... that's the same line I quote many times... and yes, from a funnier and more deadpan person than myself.

Greg
Message: Posted by: Socrates (Dec 31, 2009 12:10PM)
'Magic and Showmanship' by Henning Nelms is superb - I've mentioned it many times in the past to others looking for advice on the art and craft of magic and refer back to it every time I need some inspiration.

With nothing more than "Magic & Showmanship' and the 'Magic Book' by Harry Lorayne I have created many moments of Astonishment that are still reverberating around the world as personal stories.... An absolute winner in every sense of the word!

Socrates

"The world is but a canvas to the Imagination" - Henry David Thoreau :die:
Message: Posted by: Dick Christian (Dec 31, 2009 01:31PM)
Just one of a long list of the most important books in magic, almost all of which the current generation of students seem to have little or no interest in studying, much to their -- and magic's -- loss. Hopefully they will eventually come to realize that the most important lessons are not on DVDs or YouTube, but in BOOKS and especially in the books that devote little space to teaching "tricks."
Message: Posted by: DrTodd (Jan 3, 2010 01:36AM)
But are we really actors playing the part of magicians or magicians playing the part of actors?

I think we really need to think about that one. I have never felt like an actor playing the part of a magician. I have been doing magic since I was 8 and it is a fundamental part of my identity, so the logic seems all wrong to me.

Comments?

Dr T
Message: Posted by: Greg Arce (Jan 3, 2010 02:09AM)
Well, Dr T, I studied theater to help my magic and I know it did just that... but that's just my story.

greg
Message: Posted by: mastermindreader (Jan 3, 2010 11:41AM)
[quote]Dr T wrote:

But are we really actors playing the part of magicians or magicians playing the part of actors?

I think we really need to think about that one. I have never felt like an actor playing the part of a magician. I have been doing magic since I was 8 and it is a fundamental part of my identity, so the logic seems all wrong to me.[/quote]

Whether or not being a magician or a mentalist has become an integral part of ones own identity is actually beside the point. It is by understanding and applying acting and theatrical techniques that a performer is able to convey the essence of that character to the audience in an effective and entertaining manner.

Helms's book is an excellent starting point.

Good thoughts,

Bob Cassidy
Message: Posted by: DrTodd (Jan 3, 2010 01:48PM)
That's right Bob, but that is not Nelms point, which I lot of magicians take as gospel and it might just be wrong, since we are mentalists and magicians first.

Acting and theatre help us, I am of no doubt, but what I do doubt is that we are actors playing the part of a magician (mentalist)....if you do that, you lose your essence and cease becoming a magician (mentalist)...

Cheers

Dr T
Message: Posted by: Dick Christian (Jan 3, 2010 03:30PM)
[quote]
On 2010-01-03 02:36, DrTodd wrote:
But are we really actors playing the part of magicians or magicians playing the part of actors?

I think we really need to think about that one. I have never felt like an actor playing the part of a magician. I have been doing magic since I was 8 and it is a fundamental part of my identity, so the logic seems all wrong to me.

Comments?

Dr T
[/quote]

Dr. T,

A search of the Café archives will reveal a sound argument by Bill Palmer that the oft-quoted assertion attributed to Robert-Houdin is commonly taken out of context and therefor misconstrued.
Message: Posted by: DrTodd (Jan 7, 2010 12:27PM)
[quote]
On 2010-01-03 16:30, Dick Christian wrote:
[quote]
On 2010-01-03 02:36, DrTodd wrote:
But are we really actors playing the part of magicians or magicians playing the part of actors?

I think we really need to think about that one. I have never felt like an actor playing the part of a magician. I have been doing magic since I was 8 and it is a fundamental part of my identity, so the logic seems all wrong to me.

Comments?

Dr T
[/quote]

Dr. T,

A search of the Café archives will reveal a sound argument by Bill Palmer that the oft-quoted assertion attributed to Robert-Houdin is commonly taken out of context and therefor misconstrued.
[/quote]

Thanks Dick!
Message: Posted by: Lord Of The Horses (Jan 14, 2010 05:04PM)
Forgotten?

By whom?

NOT BY ME... for sure!


It was one of the first books in my collection and when I "only knew" one CT presentation... I tell you THE ONE in Nelms' book was it!

The best explanation and pseudo-justification for a CT and for the burning of the pieces I ever found at that time!

Not to mention his slick "impropmtu" drawing duplication which worked more times than not... and with which I had great fun!

But -above all else - effects aside - what I most loved of that book was ... EVERYTHING! (Seriously!)
Message: Posted by: Bastien (Jan 14, 2010 08:27PM)
[quote]
On 2010-01-03 02:36, DrTodd wrote:
But are we really actors playing the part of magicians or magicians playing the part of actors?

Dr T
[/quote]

Interesting point. I'm a dude, playing a dude, disguised as another dude.
Message: Posted by: Acecardician (Jan 15, 2010 03:24PM)
I always wanted to grow hair on a Billiard Ball.


ACE :dance:
Message: Posted by: John Palazzo (Jan 15, 2010 08:47PM)
“Magic and Showmanship: A Handbook for Conjurors” – Henning Nelms

“Drama and conjuring are both arts of illusion. The techniques which enable an actor to persuade his audience that he is Hamlet or Falstaff are equally useful to a conjurer who wants to persuade his audience the he can take a rabbit out of an empty hat.” (Foreword)

“The magic of drama is infinitely more powerful than the magic of trickery. It is as available to the conjurer as it is to the actor. The only difference is that actors take it for granted, whereas few conjurers are even aware that it exists.” (p. 3)

Among many other reasons, this is one of the secrets why Richard Osterlind’s fees are a number of stacks higher than most, even though he likely CAN’T do a 190 Helix Cut followed by 8 straight perfect faro shuffles.

And I haven’t even gotten past page three yet.

Conjuring themes and their elements: personalities, phenomenon, purpose, and proof; Practicing, rehearsing, silent scripting, dozens of fully described illusions with scripting and themes, and on and on.

You’ll find something in this book that will help you enhance your performance when you’re ready for it. That’s just how it is with this book.
Message: Posted by: Acecardician (Jan 17, 2010 10:10PM)
[quote]
On 2010-01-15 21:47, John Palazzo wrote:
“Magic and Showmanship: A Handbook for Conjurors” – Henning Nelms

“You’ll find something in this book that will help you enhance your performance when you’re ready for it. That’s just how it is with this book.
[/quote]

Like growing hair on a billiard ball. :)

ACE
Message: Posted by: Mick Ayres (Jan 17, 2010 10:57PM)
[quote]

“Magic and Showmanship: A Handbook for Conjurors” – Henning Nelms

“The magic of drama is infinitely more powerful than the magic of trickery. It is as available to the conjurer as it is to the actor. The only difference is that actors take it for granted, whereas few conjurers are even aware that it exists.” (p. 3)

[/quote]

I just wanted to put that quote back up on this thread. It bears repeated readings.
Message: Posted by: Acecardician (Jan 19, 2010 06:43PM)
[quote]
On 2010-01-17 23:57, Mick Ayres wrote:
[quote]

“Magic and Showmanship: A Handbook for Conjurors” – Henning Nelms

“The magic of drama is infinitely more powerful than the magic of trickery. It is as available to the conjurer as it is to the actor. The only difference is that actors take it for granted, whereas few conjurers are even aware that it exists.” (p. 3)

[/quote]

I just wanted to put that quote back up on this thread. It bears repeated readings.
[/quote]

And did I mention that it teaches you how to grow hair on a Billiard Ball?

ACE :)
Message: Posted by: RLFrame (Jan 20, 2010 09:29AM)
"And did I mention that it teaches you how to grow hair on a Billiard Ball?"

I think it says somewhere in Magic And Showmanship that a joke tends to be funny to an audience the first time, not so funny the second time and a bit annoying the third time. Perhaps I am mistaken but I think a more complete reading is in order.

Seriously, this is still my favorite book on presentation and structure. Some of the tricks are a bit lame, and seem to me at times to be used for illustration purposes, but the overall book is superb. The stuff on developing a consistent character, structuring a routine to eliminate departures, scripting and subscripting, and paying attention to the tiniest details were valuable lessons to me. Forget the arguments about "are we actors playing the part of magicians?" stuff and focus in the fact that at some point you are going to be handling a gaffed deck, or a rubber egg, or a gimmicked book or envelope as if it is a normal, or 'guide' a participant through an equivoque sequence as if each option chosen was the 'right' one to be chosen or eliminated. You need to be convincing and natural to pull it off. The alternative, IMHO, is the endemic 'overproving' and 'please examine everything' before and after that is quite distracting and tells everyone this is a 'catch-me-if-you-can' trick instead of mentalism demonstration.
Message: Posted by: Acecardician (Jan 20, 2010 11:12AM)
RLFrame:
Thanks for pointing that out. I was going to keep posting until someone said something. Yes, some of the tricks are lame, but you are right in that the meat of the book is the presentational aspects, and the tricks do help illustrate points. Or as Nelms points out, not tricks, but experiments!
I noticed the other day, 2 beginner magicians used the Svengalli deck, and the way they held it, you could tell they had a trick deck.
Then if you watch the 25 tricks video of a pro using the same deck, he handles it like it is an ordinary deck.
I still see "magicians" call rags "silks". When I was a teenager I pointed out inconsistencies to at least two very well known magicians during their teaching lectures. But they hated me for it, and one went as far to embarrass me in front of everyone. So now I learned to keep my mouth shut.

Or not, :rotf:

ACE
Message: Posted by: Acecardician (Jan 21, 2010 04:26PM)
When I ran across this thread, my Nelms book was sitting right next to my computer.
I got mine in the 70's. I just started re-reading it, and there is so much in it that I always took for granted and I did not realize I got from this. It is always good to re-read and refresh ones memory. I've applied so many of these techniques over the years subconsciously. Now I see where I got them from. Maybe that is why I ask "WHY?" when I see lecturers teaching magic.

And yes, Nelms admits in the forward that the tricks were intended primarily as examples. He said to take them as models and invent your own routines.
Maybe I will grow mold on a billiard ball.

ACE
Message: Posted by: Acecardician (Jan 24, 2010 12:01AM)
Or a bowling ball?
I did the bowling ball appearance tonight and I thought of this topic. :)


ACE
Message: Posted by: Bill Cushman (Jan 24, 2010 09:36AM)
Wow, I'd been blowing this thread off for some reason, despite Magic and Showman ship having a strong influence on me since I was around ten. It, along with Hay's Amateur Magician's Handbook, was one of the first "serious" books on magic I read. Up until then, I read the typical books for children. Not that some of them weren't well done but I certainly don't recall their names.

Hay & Nelms, allowed me to enter the grown up phase of magic and consider it from entirely new vantage points. I remember feeling like now I was into the real "stuff" of magic. Hay was definitely my favorite and had a more profound influence than Nelms.

I have both in front of me and see that they are editions I bought in book stores. Nelms is the 1969 Dover edition and is the only copy I've ever owned. I'm on at least my third AMH but recall my first was also a paperback reprint. Though most likely also sold in the magic stores of that day, think how many kids were influenced by finding Nelms and Hay in the bookstore or public library! This is congruent with my philosophy on exposure, technological advances and time.

Just flipping into Nelms quickly and I can see the seeds that would take root and become my passion for mentalism. Psueoo-hypnosis as a thematic approach comes up right away! Calling all future Derren Browns, calling all future Derren Browns!

"Sniff Sniff," "The Singing Glass," the latter of which may say something about my fascination with pendulums. And I never could get the glass to sing reliably! One more random turn and....The OM Billet Switch Box of all items.

Then turning back, on page 7, an essay, "The Magic of Meaning!" No wonder I like the quote from Kenton Knepper, "Meaning is the best misdirection," so much! And this is followed by an example effect, "Dial Information," a version of The Wizard using coins. My entire journey through magic and mentalism is being mapped out and I'm only on page 8 other tha the random flip to the OM Box! I will definitely add Nelms to my re-read/scan queue.

I won't get into AMH too much here though that was the book that taught me about practice, rehearsal and scripting. I was fascinated with the stories of they young Hay and his trials and tribulations. "The Magic State of Mind" and "Hard Easy Tricks and Easy Hard Tricks," right there in the beginning were two chapters I read and re-read. Hay gave me any sense of discipline I've ever applied to magic as well as a firm grounding in coins, cards and the basics that always made me welcome among our peers for such a young kid. I will have to re-read the chapter "Mental Magic," towards the end of the book and see what seeds for Dr. Bill were planted there!

Another part of this thread I would have missed out on are the reminescences of the Fort Lauderdale magic scene. I just missed "The Diamond Era," arriving in Ft. Lauderdale in 1983.

Paul's store was still there but he was already off getting his online business going. Whoops, make that mail order business, not online yet. At least I don't think so. Once in a while he'd come in and "hold court." These were always interesting experiences! I didn't have much personal interaction with Paul but do recall how impressive his demos were when he deigned to do one.

Two young men a bit older than I were running the store near the Searstown. David and Brett, I can't recall their last names. I think David had become Paul's accountant and then took over the day to day operation of the shop, having had a long interest in magic.

Brett was the far more talented of the two and we got along fairly well. He invited me join him for a magic lecture, my first. Some guy named Eugene Burger! I pretty much stopped performing for a while after that, reassessing how I could live up to the standards so evident in Burger's work, not to mention his performance.

Brett asked me to come to another lecture not too long after Burger. This time I was very familiar with the lecturer, Paul Harris, as I'd read all of his books and was a major fan. Another wonderful lecture and between the two has set a standard that has been very tough to meet for anyone I've seen since!

When it comes to recommending books, I always recommend Amateur Magician's Handbook but Magic and Showmanship less so. The modern books I recommend in terms of structuring and strengthening both magic and mentalism are "Strong Magic" by Darwin Ortiz, Ken Weber's "Maximum Entertainment" and Tommy Wonder's Books of Wonder" trilogy, as well as the DVDs by Tommy.

This latter recomendation often surprises other magi, especially the hardcore magicians not into mentalism (are there a couple of those left?). I think they might also be a bit territorial about Wonder as well. However, I think his example of paying meticulous attention to every detail sets a standard we can all strive towards. And his obvious passion is contagious.

The other book I always recommend when I can tell someone is serious about performance is Stephen King's "On Writing." This non-fiction book by the horror master is a joy to read and has had a profound impact on how I script my own routines.

I also agree with Iain and others that we thrive when paying attention to our inspirations outside of mentalism. And some of my best and fondest remembered conversations with professional mentalists have been around just such topics. I always love to find out what inspires anyone that might be "lateral" to their vocation or avocation.
Message: Posted by: bdekolta (Jan 24, 2010 02:08PM)
Henry Hay mentions the Nelm's book in AMH. That is probably how many of use ended up with both. Great memories and strong influences. Nelms was first published in 1969 so that must have been a later addition to AHB.
Message: Posted by: Mick Ayres (Jan 24, 2010 06:01PM)
[quote]
On 2010-01-24 10:36, Bill Cushman wrote:
The other book I always recommend when I can tell someone is serious about performance is Stephen King's "On Writing." This non-fiction book by the horror master is a joy to read and has had a profound impact on how I script my own routines.
[/quote]

I agree, Bill. The advice I have gleaned from both Nelm's and King's books always lurks at the back of my mind when writing scripts for my acts.

Mick
Message: Posted by: KIDDMAGIC (Oct 14, 2013 09:14PM)
This book has been invaluable to me over the years...it's like an old friend.
Message: Posted by: Cervier (Oct 15, 2013 04:43AM)
When I started being serious about magic, a very wise magician told me "[i]every magician should obliged by law to read this book![/i]" --and I agree. I believe it's the very first book that should be studied.
Message: Posted by: rjs (Oct 15, 2013 07:26AM)
For all you anoraks out there, Henning Nelms wrote a forgotten classic of crime fiction under the fishy pseudonym Hake Talbot.
The book was Rim of the Pit, published in 1944.
It has a great opening line:

"I came up here to make a dead man change his mind."

A strong point is made by one of the characters when the group are baffled and threatened by a series of impossible, inexplicable events:

"You speak as if there were a formula for solving problems of this kind."
"But there is."
"I should like to learn it."
"I can put it in one sentence. Look for the unnecessary."

"We must ask ourselves what was done during the course of the trick that would not have been needed if the demonstration had been genuine?"

Look for the unnecessary...The Achilles heel of most magic tricks.
Jon Allen made a similar point to Dan Harlan in his recent DVD collection Connection.
Message: Posted by: Christopher Taylor (Oct 15, 2013 09:35AM)
I read Brown's "Pure effect" not long ofter reading Nelms; I was startled by the similarities between the concepts presented in the two books.

Christopher
Message: Posted by: mastermindreader (Oct 15, 2013 11:28AM)
I met Henning Nelms in 1969 at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C. and had the pleasure of giving him a ride home. He was an extremely nice person and had a great sense of humor. And, when it came to theater, he certainly knew his business.
Message: Posted by: Trickstar (Oct 17, 2013 08:33PM)
I had never heard of this book, but picked it up in a 2nd hand book shop about 3 years ago, also found Dunnigers Complete encyclopedia of magic in the same place, I got both of them for $10, love them both. Everytime I read the Nelms book I end up taking copius amounts of notes as every second page has nuggets of gold. It's allways interesting to reread my notes and see the different things that have resonated with me as I have progressed.
Message: Posted by: Trois (Oct 18, 2013 02:30AM)
One of these days I'm go,n ta. read these books.
Message: Posted by: Michael Landes (Oct 24, 2013 11:38PM)
Probably like everyone else here, I'm just happy to see the book mentioned at all by people who love it as I do.
I bought my copy in 1967. Started reading it on the toilet and almost injured myself because I just couldn't
put it down and was in there hours!

The first time I heard or read another magician praise it highly was in the mid seventies when Tommy Wonder
mentioned it by name at the start of his lecture. (tongue in cheek, he said that directing the audience to
this book WAS his lecture.)

The dalai llama in exile I believe once told his European sponsor, in response to a question,
that the "secret" wisdom of his form of Buddhism was "secret" because people simply weren't interested.

It is, of course, unique. Even at this late date, fifty years later, there is still nothing like it.
And that's a shame. I'm sad that there haven't been a dozen books covering the same territory written since.
After all, different authors speak to different readers. No doubt Mr. Nelms book won't speak to everyone.
I just count it fortunate that I responded to his way of talking about his extraordinarily coherent overview
of the art in all its aspects. I wouldn't have even thought it possible. Leonardo once said with reference to
Giotto, some centuries prior, that "art declined after him". I feel the same way about Nelms and magic "theory"
by this I mean no disrespect to a few extraordinary books by Carney,Wonder and such.