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Topic: Review: Best of Friends Vol. III by Harry Lorayne
Message: Posted by: Pat Trick (Jul 8, 2007 05:58PM)
After a 22-year pause, the indefatigable Harry Lorayne has produced the third installment of his "Best of Friends" book series. And what an impressive specimen of magic it is. You don’t need to have read the first two volumes to appreciate the sheer range of knock-out effects and routines in the third, nor do you need to be a working professional to recognize a treasure trove when you see one. All you need is a desire to take your magic chops to the next level, and an interest in learning some eye-popping effects and new twists on some classic routines.

Best of Friends Volume III is a cornucopia o’ of close-up magic by some of the magic fraternity’s better-known names (start the list with Michael Ammar, Allan Ackerman, Aldo Colombini, David Regal, Andi Gladwin, Kostya Kimlat, Peter Duffie, Gregory Wilson, and Max Maven) as well as some lesser-known contributors whose success in other careers didn’t get in the way of creating entertaining card magic. Each contributor gets a short biography; then their respective tricks are explained in Mr. Lorayne’s lucid, and not infrequently funny, prose style. As with his The Classic Collection, the explanations are supplemented with over 400 crisp B&W photos of his hands “in action.”

Now, admittedly, if all you know about a magic book is that it’s 522 pages long and costs around 75 bucks, you might be tempted to heave a discouraged sigh. Fear not. This reviewer was rewarded early on, thanks in large measure to Harry Lorayne’s natural gift for conveying complete thoroughness with a light touch. BOF III had me from hello (see “Guess Quotient” below) but it became apparent that this isn’t the kind of book to simply read and review. I was often hobbled by the temptation to break stride, grab my cards, and work on a new trick. Think of sipping water from a fire hydrant, except that the water is clear and cold – and you’re thirsty.

A quick aside on the allegedly high price. When I see the occasional grumbling among some magicians in magic fora over the cost of books of this scope and caliber, I have to laugh. How often these same grumblers think nothing of dropping $30 for the latest “must have” gimmick hyped on the Internet, or pay some absurd price for the secret of a single effect. Oscar Wilde once said that a cynic is one who knows the price of everything and the value of nothing; something similar is at play here.

As stated in the Foreword, Vol III is not really for beginners. Still, if Lorayne feels a sleight or term may be unfamiliar, he’ll take an extra moment to catch up the more inexperienced reader with a brief sidebar lesson. If you already know the sleight, chances are good that the lesson will improve your handling. Whether you’re a full-time pro or just someone who derives deep satisfaction at the sight of drinking buddies scratching their heads over how the &^@# you did that, BOF III supplies the reader an overflowing armload of superb magic.

It’s the simple idea that often packs the two-by-four wallop, isn’t it? The book opens with a strong demonstration of that truism, Harry Lorayne’s own “Guess Quotient,” an ESP-tinged card pair mystery that can, with the right showmanship, leave the spectator wondering who’s in league with Satan – you or the spectator himself.

The rest of the book is as eclectic as it is entertaining. A few examples: Simon Lovell’s “Poker,” with its startling finger-smash-through-the-selected-card finale, recalls R. Paul Wilson’s handling of “Ladies Looking Glass” from The Royal Road to Card Magic. Steve Cohen’s “Dictionary Definition” (although not credited as such) is quite similar to Paul Cummins’ routine, “The Invisible Card,” key elements of which appear in Roberto Giobbi’s Card College Vol 3, where its provenance is traced to Hugard’s Magic Monthly and George Kaplan’s The Fine Art of Magic. But I digress; I get big reactions from the Cohen version.

Magicians who work in church settings will find some effects adaptable to the gospel message, such as “Heart’s Delight,” Joe Rindfleisch’s winsome extension of Dai Vernon’s “Emotional Reaction” from Inner Secrets of Card Magic. And for wedding reception table-hopping, or for any husband-wife spectatos, “Unreliable Witness” by Dominic Twose and Aldo Colombini’s very magical “The Counsellors” are perfect.

Is your pet Ace Assembly starting to feel like yesterday’s salad? Try David Regal’s “Observ-Ace-Tion” on for size, an audience-participation routine that elicits as many laughs as gasps. Or Joshua Jay’s silk-smooth “Royal Aces,” with its startling poker hand finish. Or Tony Noice’s “Fastest Ever Assembly.” (Out of 130-some tricks, nine of ‘em are Ace Assembly variations – take another sip from that hydrant!) And if color separation tricks ring your bell, Gregory Wilson’s “The Trick That Sucks” could become the Big Ben of your repertoire.

BOF III does not live by cards alone, however. You’ll also find uses for a conch shell, a thumb-tie, a cork, a wallet, and a credit card. Coin prestidigitators will be down with Justin Higham’s “Cards/Copper/Silver,” a strong coin-card quickie. And Nick Pudar’s offbeat “Tragedy Assembly” is a matrix-like gem in which the performer appears to lose control of which coins move where, while secretly staying a step ahead of the most gimlet-eyed spectators. I was a tad skeptical of Joe Rindfleisch’s “Magic Carpet Matrix” – until I performed it for my wife and was pleased to witness her normally undroppable jaw hit the floor.

While one may raise an eyebrow over why certain other top names don’t appear in the BOF series, the author-editor does apologize profusely on page one for not being able to use all the submissions he wanted to. (A thousand-pager would pose a big-time marketing problem.) As it is, Best of Friends Volume III reflects a degree of T.L.C. and pedagogical finesse that can only come from a lifetime of performing and teaching. In an era of instant downloads and fads-of-the-month, this splendid anthology will provide countless years of enjoyment.

For more information, or to order a copy, you can email the eminence grise of modern card magic himself at harrylorayne@earthlink.net.

Nova Scotia-born Patrick Coffin writes from Los Angeles.
Message: Posted by: Magiguy (Jul 8, 2007 09:40PM)
Terrific review, Patrick! Lorayne is a living legend for good reason, and has a great talent for selecting (and creating) some of the finest material worthy of print. In terms of quality, useable magic this is one of the greatest values (and least expensive books) to come out in the last several years.
Message: Posted by: Andy the cardician (Jul 8, 2007 10:06PM)
Thanks Patrick
Message: Posted by: Andrew Loh (Jul 10, 2007 07:55PM)
Thanks for the great review Patrick!
Message: Posted by: Pat Trick (Jul 13, 2007 01:57AM)
Thanks gents. The best appreciation of all would be to pick up the book for yourself, and feast your eyes and hands on a life-long adventure.
Message: Posted by: Paul H (Jul 14, 2007 02:17AM)
Well, I've done just that and thrown BOF Vol 1 in for good measure!! Thanks for a great review Patrick.


Paul H
Message: Posted by: VcosNJ (Aug 8, 2007 09:40PM)
This is on my next to-buy list. I need a good book for an upcoming long flight. :)
Message: Posted by: magicfish (Jan 4, 2014 01:25PM)
Old thread. Had to bring it back. This book is
is simply unbelievable.
Im isolated in northern Canada (as I often am due to work) and each time I come out here I bring different books with me. (Its a very difficult choice as I have a large magic library). Anyway this time I brought BOF 3 with me. Ive had it for a while but this my first chance tp really sink my teeth in and man o man is it good.
An absolute treasure trove of top notch closeup from the best in the world combined with Harry Lorayne's supreme ability to give clear instruction- what more can I say.
Simply wonderful. A Magic treasure.
Message: Posted by: Jamie D. Grant (Jan 4, 2014 01:35PM)
I was just looking through my library and see that I'm severely lacking in the "Harry Lorayne" department. Can someone suggest his "must haves"? It sounds like Vol.III is one of them?

I remember seeing Harry on TV back in the 80s doing his memory work. I couldn't believe it and got on my bike the next morning, pedaling as fast as I could to the local library. An hour later and I had memorized all 50 States in alphabetical order, lol. Wonderful times.
Message: Posted by: Magiguy (Jan 4, 2014 02:00PM)
Hey Jamie,
A good place to start would be the first volume of Lorayne: The Classic Collection. All four volumes are great. After working your way through that series I would recommend Personal Collection. Frankly, no matter what you choose, you can't go wrong. I have every book he's written (multiple editions of several) and can pull any one of them off the shelf and find gold inside.
Message: Posted by: Dr. JK (Jan 4, 2014 06:38PM)
Ditto to what magiguy said, Jamie! You will not regret any of these volumes (Classic Collection 1-4). I have learned so much from them!

Apocalypse is another of my Lorayne favorites, but it's getting harder to find. The advantage of Apocalypse is the variety. I always find something new in its pages.
Message: Posted by: Jamie D. Grant (Jan 4, 2014 07:22PM)
Magiguy- so awesome to hear from you! I'll take your advice- no questions asked!

And Dr. JK- I've always wanted to pick those up but have never gotten around to it. This might sound like a weird question but; are any of the effects in there part of your working repertoire? Or do you perform any of them on a regular basis? They look amazing regardless, but I'm always curious as to what people take from collections.
Message: Posted by: Dr. JK (Jan 12, 2014 05:19PM)
Hey Jamie,

Sorry for the delay in response. There are plenty of effects in these tomes that I perform regularly. However, [i]Apocalypse[/i] is not something that I would buy for specific effects. There's way too much here for that! There's lots of sleights and techniques in addition to the tricks. And, to be fair, I'm not a professional, so there are items I use regularly, but it's mostly casual performances. But yes, items I like include:
[*]Can't be Done (Larry Jennings)
[*]Will the Cards Match (Larry Becker)
[*]The Divining Card (David Regal)
[*]Inferential C/S Transposition (Curtis Kam)
[*]Slippery Silver (Geoff Latta)
[*]Chink a Chink (David Roth)
[*]Top Billing (Paul Cummins)
[*]The Matchmaker's Chart (Richard Vollmer)
[*]It's One of These! (Eddy Taytelbaum)
There's lots more I could rave about, but take a look at some of the review threads here on the Café for things that others use. I'm sure that each volume would yield multiple items you would use regularly.
Message: Posted by: Ray Bertrand (Jan 12, 2014 06:51PM)
Jamie, my first Harry Lorayne book was "Close-up Card Magic" printed in 1976. He describes a few sleights and eloquently reveals many effects in his 272 page manuscript. It is illustrated by Ed Mishell and edited by Louis Tannen.

Message: Posted by: magicfish (Jan 12, 2014 07:18PM)
On 2014-01-12 19:51, Ray Bertrand wrote:
Jamie, my first Harry Lorayne book was "Close-up Card Magic" printed in 1976. He describes a few sleights and eloquently reveals many effects in his 272 page manuscript. It is illustrated by Ed Mishell and edited by Louis Tannen.

And Paul Chosse called it the single most useful card book ever written.