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The Magic Cafe Forum Index » » New to magic? » » Why you cant have the best book for beginning casuals (2 Likes) Printer Friendly Version

Terrible Wizard
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*controversy warning - I expect to get hit for this post*

There are many good introductions to magic, both on book and video. There are the ones you already know about Smile

But none can be the 'best' for three key reasons:

1) Best is subjective. What's good advice, or a good trick, for one is useless for another.

2) They don't focus upon the real world environment of the amateur - having to perform lots of tricks for broadly the same audience, usually friends, colleagues and family, with limited control over environment, and limited access to props. Consider how many talk about large props, set ups, using a table and 'performing a show' for an audience rather than focussing closely on impromptu, out of your pockets, for a single friend who will examine everything you use and doesn't like patter.

3) Many of the most useful and impactful tricks for the casual magi are not public domain, but belong to their creators and are currently marketed. It would be crazy to expect, for example, a beginner magic book to include instructions for B'wave, Gemini Twins, Color Monte, Crazy Man's Handcuffs, Emotional Reaction and Take Me to Your Leader.

Thus it seems to me that even beginners have to start with a pretty wide and expensive variety of resources, and make constant adaptations to fit themselves, and make many mistaken experiments and wasted purchases, rather than hope to get it all in a single recommended volume. And it will likely always be so.
mlippo
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Well,


Point #1
Agreed.

Point #2

If one is a little bit interested in learning a bit of magic, books that can be found in general bookshops as Mark Wilson's Complete Course, Lorayne's Book of Magic, Joshua Jay's course are good places to start seeing and trying a bit of everything.

Most of the people don't get this far, but if he/she still means to get serious in learning and he/she has found out to like some category rather than another, nowadays there are so many ways to get hold of more specialised beginners' books as Giobbi's Card College or Bobo's or Futagawa's books or many others. These kind of books are absolutely needed to learn the foundations in magic, the basic effects, the basic sleights and so on. Once they have these, then, if they're still serious, at that point joining a magic club and getting books and videos with tricks and routines of all sorts is not difficult. And this would give them the access to more specialised knowledge

You say the amateur needs to know a zillion tricks because he's always performing for the same people? Not necessarily, in my opinion. You don't have to perform every time they ask you. And this helps keeping your repertoire manageable and prevents you to become the court jester.
Sure, it's good to know a good number of simple self-workers (Bannon and Steve Beam come to mind) that require little less study for those times when you're pressed to do "one trick, pleeeeaaase ..." and you don't want to give away one of your best pieces. And there are plenty out there!

Point #3
I agree with you that tricks as B'wave, Gemini Twins, Color Monte, Crazy Man's Handcuffs, Emotional Reaction, so easy in execution, but so good and not so easy to do well for an audience, should not be in general bookshop beginners' books. Joshua Jay has already explained Invisible deck and Out of this World in his ... :-(

Mark
Terrible Wizard
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Quote:
If one is a little bit interested in learning a bit of magic, books that can be found in general bookshops as Mark Wilson's Complete Course, Lorayne's Book of Magic, Joshua Jay's course are good places to start seeing and trying a bit of everything.


But this is exactly what is problematic about these book, IMHO. Consider MWCC - it's huge, and a lot of it isn't really relevant to the casual beginner (maybe the beginner with a mind towards becoming a professional). How many of the tricks in there are really strong yet also: impromptu, from the pocket, easy, examinable? If you trimmed out all the tricks that didn't meet those criteria how much of that huge volume would be left?

Quote:
You say the amateur needs to know a zillion tricks because he's always performing for the same people? Not necessarily


Sure, 'not necessarily'. But usually. the standard advice of knowing six tricks really well and performing them hundreds of times - changing the audience not the trick - isn't such great or practical advice for the amateur, I believe. It's much more practical for the hobbyist to have a big repertoire and perform more often, than to have a very restricted repertoire and perform a lot less often. Hobbyists have a harder time getting experience.

Quote:
Point 3


But the whole point is that these 'good' 'easy' tricks are exactly the ones the casual magi needs - far more than they need the illusion section in Wilson! And these cannot be found altogether in a single beginner volume, rather the casual magi has to hunt and search and spend in order to find the gems that are useful for him/her.
funsway
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I agree with your sentiment, TW, Not sure about "casual magician" later changed to "hobbyist"

I have a copy of "The Boy's Book of Magic" that offers exactly what you describe - plus show to make the props you need.

It is outdated, of course.. The old "Cub Scout Book of Magic" did a fair job also.

Why haven't they been rewritten? I would suggest there is little market for them.

Todays' beginner would rather buy a lot of stuff that read a book (opinion).

Yes, each of us may know of the rare individual who would benefit from such a book. Give them a library card and send them to The Magic Nook.

If they can't sort out what is realistic for them or not they will never succeed with magic anyway. Doing a lot of tricks, maybe.
"the more one pretends at magic, the more awe and wonder will be found in real life." Arnold Furst



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mlippo
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I wasn't saying that you should confine yourself to "six tricks", but I think that 20-25 tricks/routines (including the easier self-workers I mentioned before) done well is feasible to an amateur and more than enough...
Besides, during the years I dropped many tricks I thought I would be doing for the rest of my life, because I learnt new better ones (or better versions) and because I think that maintaining them all in good shape was not only risky, but useless ...

Same reason I dumped most tricks that required big stacks, most of my card gaffs, most of my packet tricks and most of the tricks that needed something more than just one or two ordinary packs of cards, a sharpie and some business cards.

I see you have multiple interests and are trying multiple things and asking many things. We all went through it, I suppose. I certainly have and now I'm back to basics again, with the difference that now I can do them much better, present much better and I have developed a good judgment of what a good effect is and therefore I'm able to avoid the crap you see nowadays sold in shops or websites, saving myself time and money.

The "fanciest" prop I carry on me now is a pack in Mnemonica order.

I'm sure you'll agree with me, one day.
Just my opinion, of course
Terrible Wizard
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Cheers for the agreement funsway Smile

25 tricks is much better for the hobbyist, mlippo Smile. But still a bit too limited, IMHO. 50 is better. I think the Jerx recommends a 100, but that seems hyperbolic Smile

And I totally agree that exactly what those 25-50 are is going to vary over time, new ones in old ones out. But my point is that you won't get anywhere near that number from any existing beginner book - evens ones that have hundreds of tricks within them, like Wilson. Better to have ten really useable and long lasting tricks than a hundred useless ones.

Regarding trying things, yes I definitely try out a lot of stuff! I enjoy the exploration and the variety. Smile. But when it comes to what I actually do for people with any passing resemblance to regularity then it always comes down to the simple, the impromptu, the pocket props, and easy tricks with cards. And this is the sort of thing I believe beginner magic books aimed at hobbyist's would better of including - not illusions, big props, stuff that requires lots of preparation, etc. For example, some advice on how to use a sw*mi or equivoque is worth more to a casual magi, IMHO, than a hundred pages of detail about linking rings, cups and balls, card tricks with elaborate set ups, billiard ball manipulation, DLs, silks, slates, f*rce bags, stagecraft, character development, and how to routine an hour long show.
Senor Fabuloso
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Fyi even once one becomes familiar with magic after many years, those so called beginner books are useful. I have found myself going back to them again and again. Tarbell 1 was my first magician, magic book and was just what I needed at the time. However The TV Magic Set made me happier as I wanted tricks not information. Of course as time went on I learned that if I got one trick from a book, it was usually worth more than a whole box of tricks. Not to mention all the great advice they have in there pages.

I think in this the "New to magic" section advocating books, is something we should encourage but that's just me.
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Terrible Wizard
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Quote:
On Feb 28, 2019, Senor Fabuloso wrote:
even once one becomes familiar with magic after many years, those so called beginner books are useful.


This is true.
But my point is that none are the best. And none are as good as they could have been (perhaps should be) because of the reasons I gave in the OP.
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