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Topic: Review: The Gift by Paul Brook
Message: Posted by: Jon_Thompson (Jul 25, 2007 09:28AM)
[b]The Gift – The 14th Step to Mentalism by Paul Brook[/b]

[b]Cost[/b] £35/$70 (http://paulbrook.co.uk/thegift.htm)

(1=easy to do, 2=No sleights, but not so easy, 3=Some sleights used,
4=Advanced sleights used, 5=Suitable for experienced magicians only)

It depends. It’s not a beginner’s book, but then if you’re on stage doing a full mentalism act, you’re not a beginner by definition.

When I met Paul earlier this month at the London Mentalist Meeting, he was fizzing with ideas. This is one of them. The Gift is a fundamental method designed to create impossible feats of stage or group mentalism.

The book opens with the method. It concerns an approach to pre-show work that forms the basis of what follows. It’s flexible, fair and completely stooge-free. The spectator is none the wiser for being approached in the foyer and agreeing to go up on stage later. It's not hypnosis either, though it does have some very nice psychological subtleties.

Some of the more seasoned performers reading this might have guessed that there’s a healthy dollop of dual reality involved. There is, but the way in which it’s implemented is particularly clean and baffling even if the spectator tries to describe how she perceived things after the show.

After the method come a number of applications. Paul takes us through what the audience sees first, then the use of the method for setting up each, and finally the performance. The effects covered are:
[b]Changing Minds:[/b] The spectator as a mind reader (you chalk a thought and the spectator – whose eyes are closed – divines it).

[b]Reading Minds:[/b] You reveal a spectator’s memories that no one could possibly know.

[b]More than Freud:[/b] You predict a spectator’s next action.

[b]Hand of Glory:[/b] The infamous “how many fingers” game. Some people have commented that this isn’t original. Well, that may be so, but as a demonstration of an application of the methodology underlying this book, it’s a good and baffling one.

[b]The Pilfered PIN:[/b] You divine a spectator’s PIN belonging to her cash card.
Each effect comes with its own tight script and an excellent section on the various subtleties to employ. These are comprehensive, and it’s obvious that they’ve come from experience. Paul’s a psychologist, but he’s also an experienced entertainer, and it shows.

Finally, there’s a section on creating your own pre-show effects using Paul’s approach. This is packed full of hints, tips and subtleties covering everything from designing the effects themselves to selecting suitable candidates to join you on stage.

This book is intelligently and clearly written, and if you perform stage mentalism, it’s something you really should read. No one is a stooge. No one is aware of the method. That’s the strength behind this work. Once set up, the effects you perform are method free and, dare I say it, “Naked” as far as both the audience [I]AND[/I] the spectator perceives them.

Unlike some works on the same subject that assume many aspects of the process, Paul goes into great depth. The Gift is a full approach and philosophy, which eaves you smiling and thinking “you clever, clever sod!”

The price might seem high to some, but I think it’ll keep the wannabes away, and that can only be a good thing.
Message: Posted by: Andy the cardician (Jul 25, 2007 10:15AM)
Thanks for the review
Message: Posted by: phillsmiff (Jul 26, 2007 02:36AM)
Jon, good review. I received a copy of The Gift earlier this month, and it is sterling stuff, I agree. Paul's use of psychology shines through, it is clear that the effects are born of performance, not armchair bound navel gazing. Paul has obviously worked the effects, and ironed out the crinkles.

It isn't beginners stuff, and you can't really do it close up, but if you have a stage act to which you would like to add what seems like an effortless miracle, or if you are thinking of building a powerful stage piece which incorporates the very latest in performance techniques, then The Gift would be, I suppose: a gift.

Honestly I haven't had a chance to try it all out yet, it takes more than a month for something this big to work its way into my repertoire, but as another part of my toolbox, The Gift is an important piece.

(Although I think calling it the 14th Step is trouble! It needs more spooky eyes / pictures of people I've never heard of.)

Phill Smith
Message: Posted by: Waters (Jul 26, 2007 10:06AM)
Thanks for that Phill. I am looking forward to reading this. I appreciate your information.

With Regards,
Message: Posted by: Malchat (Jul 26, 2007 12:00PM)
Great review, I 'll pick this up on the recommendation of Phill and Jon.

But please...

On 2007-07-25 10:28, Jon_Thompson wrote:
The price might seem high to some, but I think it’ll keep the wannabes away, and that can only be a good thing.

...that tired argument for price inflation just hurts my brain, since nowadays even the junk is priced 'to keep it out of the hands of the merely curious.'
Message: Posted by: gaafman (Jul 26, 2007 01:26PM)
I got it, and at first I was a bit disappointed with the main secret. Nothing revolutionary, but after I start reading the detail in which the patter and the flow is explained I appreciate it much more. It is a well thought out booklet, which you are going to like for it's nuances/details. It needs to be said that this booklet is aimed for serious stage mentalists.

It has convinced me to try out this type of mentalism (which I stepped away from in the past). I am curious how I am going to devellop with this booklet in mind.
Message: Posted by: Traveler (Aug 9, 2007 08:32AM)
On 2007-07-26 13:00, Malchat wrote:
...that tired argument for price inflation just hurts my brain, since nowadays even the junk is priced 'to keep it out of the hands of the merely curious.'

Without judging a book from its pixelated electronic cover, I'm glad I'm not the only one who's fed up with the current trend that replaces books with bites and experience with hype.
There are exceptions (Cavalli, Eye...), and it's absolutely possible that Paul Brook is one of them.
But, please. That argument is indeed so tiresome it makes ones nose bleed. :)
Message: Posted by: Waters (Aug 11, 2007 01:52PM)
Little could be added to the great thoughts of Jon, Phill and others, but still I think the following should be clarified.

The routines written in the book are extremely well thought out. Paul has really provided everything for the thinking performer. These routines are what the future of mentalism is about.

There is a statement in the book that mentions, "people will not remember the person who merely finds the correct key out of five" (loosely paraphrased). Mentalism is growing and becoming more "pure". The routines included keep the compromise where it needs to be. These look real!

Still, the real value here is the psychology of using the technique. After reading a couple of the complete routine ideas, your neurons start to fire and your imagination gets moving. That is the mark of a worthy book (in my opinion). The "real" work that Paul discusses is of genuine value. The technique truly has "new life" for me. Paul's discussion of the concept and clarification of technique of "seeding" is exceptional.

Thanks Paul.

Message: Posted by: mindcontroller (Aug 21, 2007 09:57PM)
The Products would be even better if he ever replied to emails, I've emailed him numerous times over the last four weeks, using both email addresses on his webpage, and he's not replied as yet......

We shall see....

My monies waiting Paul!
Message: Posted by: Paul Brook (Aug 22, 2007 02:04AM)
Hi Mind Controller,

I am more than willing to reply to any e-mails sent to me. I have checked my e-mail box and there are no un-replied e-mails.

If you could PM me your details, or PM me your question/query then I will be more than happy to help :)

Message: Posted by: mindcontroller (Aug 22, 2007 01:57PM)
Houston, we have communication!

And Paul has made me buy all his books, well not yet, but order on its way for Everything!!

Message: Posted by: r1z08 (Aug 26, 2007 06:51PM)
I have recently studied "The Gift" and, I must say, that this truly is a remarkable piece of work. If anyone knows the topic of Mark Strivings' wonderful "Before the Curtain Rises", then you know what to expect from this manuscript. The difference between the material by Mr. Strivings and Mr. Brook is that Paul goes into very in-depth detail in the psychology of the work and the subtleties that make it convincing and powerful. Being such a huge fan of Mark Strivings, it almost pains me to state that "The Gift" is everything that I wanted "Before the Curtain Rises" to be...and then some.

One subtlety, in particular, really caught my attention and I immediately put it into one of my routines. This subtlety alone can make a decent effect turn into a really convincing piece of mind reading. This is so simple and so devilishly clever that I literally said "Jeeze! Why didn't I think of that?" out loud after reading it.

The routines in the book are fantastic and look like true miracles to the audience. I truly enjoy how Paul encourages the reader to be bold and confident in performance as I feel that this is something that mentalism demands, but is seldom put into practice.

As Phill Smith (buy Mitox too!) mentioned above, this book is not for the beginner. It takes some gall and careful planning to pull off these demonstrations and, at times, you will be required to think on your feet.

Buy this book and soak up every word of it and I guarantee that you will surely be enlightened by "The Gift".
Message: Posted by: Sean-Paul (Mar 20, 2011 06:33PM)
Okay - thanks everyone.

This gives me the confidence to pull the trigger on this one.

If you look at his site - it is all very compelling. I want to buy all of it.
Message: Posted by: Brainbu$ter (May 22, 2012 08:19PM)
Yes, I want to hire Paul's marketer.
Message: Posted by: Brainbu$ter (Nov 7, 2012 08:35PM)
There was no mention of Striving's work in Brook's Gift.
In fact, Paul Brook spends the introduction of The Gift claiming that there is no other book on the subject--only books that hint at it in passing.

Don't get me wrong...both books are very good with a lot of useful info.
I only wish mentalists had more class (It also bugs me that mentalist authors refer to their own books as "tomes," which I think Strivings did. This is tantamount to writing up an effect, then calling your own effect a "classic."

Astonishingly, Brook wrote on pg. 5 of the Gift,
"you would expect some cyclopean sized TOME on the subject. Of this I found none!"

Yet the author of the other book on this subject (Before the Curtain Rises) pretentiously refers to his book as a "TOME."

Within Alchemical Tools I recall Brook also referred to his own book (about 200 pages if you remove the unnecessary glossary, the ads, and all the blank pages) as a "tome."

Magicians give credit to where credit is due. The crowing, swollen-headed, self-applauding mentalists can learn something from magicians (if I'm not being too subtle).