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Scott F. Guinn
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Review of “Working Progress . . . Tricks I Do for Money by John Holt
$10 at Lybrary:

In the interests of full disclosure, I must confess that I had not previously heard of John Holt until I saw his post on The Magic Café seeking a few people to review his new ebook. As he billed the book as working material for working performers, I was immediately interested, and offered my services to give a fair and honest review. In exchange, he gave me a free copy of his book.

This is a rather short (30 pages) ebook containing explanations of six items, five of which are routines with playing cards, along with John’s chop cup routine. I will comment on each routine briefly before proceeding.

The Best (And Worst) One Handed Card Trick in The World: I like this one a lot. It is playful & sneaky, and while quite easy from a technical standpoint, it’s powerful and commercial. This is easily my favorite routine in the book.

Card to Wallet: You gotta love the catchy title! This is a fun and funny presentation for an old standard. If you work for real people and don’t already have a CTW routine, this would be a strong choice.

Chop Cup: John’s routine for—you guessed it—the chop cup. While the plot is relatively standard (and I’m not saying that’s a bad thing, by any means), John offers some very funny line and bits, and a great idea (that makes it seem as if you’re producing literally bags full of fruit over the course of the evening) that is worth the price of the book many times over to a worker.

The Amazingly Fair Prediction: This is a good idea and a practical routine to use to practice your classic force under fire.

The Aldi Birthday Card Trick: Here is a cute, fun-filled routine that leaves the guest of honor with a souvenir that, in John’s words, she “can keep in a photo album or drop into a bin on the way out.” (On my first read-through of the book, that LITERALLY made me LOL!)

BONUS: Phil Deck Opener: I like this one a lot, too. I keep coming back to the word “fun,” and that’s what this routine is. It is also commercial and practical, and a great use for the “Phil” deck or the Card Shark Double Decker.

“Working Progress” is an entertaining read, with some strong real-world material. As I read it, I quickly came to a few conclusions:

1. I have no doubt that John is what he claims to be—a real-world performer for real people. That makes him a kindred spirit and raises his esteem in my eyes exponentially.

2. Because of this, John has no time for pipe dreams or “magic for other magicians.” These routines may not wow the boys at the club (although some of them very well may, at that), but they will play strongly for real-world paid performances.

3. John has a sense of humor very similar to my own, although significantly more British. A lot of his lines might have been something I would have come up with if I were working on the same routines—if I were British. I am not British. John is British. (Not that there’s anything inherently wrong with that . . .)

I like magic books with strong real-world material, and I like magic books that are enjoyable to read rather than simply a play-by-play of what move comes when. I give John high marks on both of these points. Further, the routines in “Working Progress” are beautifully illustrated, clearly explained, with complete presentations. You could do a WHOLE lot worse with your ten bucks. Get it!
"Love God, laugh more, spend more time with the ones you love, play with children, do good to those in need, and eat more ice cream. There is more to life than magic tricks." - Scott F. Guinn
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