Conversations with Kreskin by The Amazing Kreskin, Michael McCarty
Conversations With Kreskin is a cornucopia of stories of Kreskin’s Amazing life, culture, famous friends, inside knowledge of entertainment personalities, his mind power, thought reading, and much more. As a bonus feature, there is an eight-page full-color graphic art insert, “How Kreskin Became Amazing,” as well as many color photographs. (via Goodreads)
When I was a kid, David Copperfield and Doug Henning specials on TV were like holidays. Snacks and desserts would be consumed and the whole family would sit down to watch. For two hours, minus commercials, I would be amazed. Then, I’d spend the next week contemplating how the tricks were done. I’ve really always been a system person. The videos I watched more than Star Wars were the behind-the-scenes documentaries that showed how the special effect in Star Wars were done. I knew there was no such thing as “magic.” There was a technical aspect to their performances that that magicians weren’t sharing. This annoyed me. I felt that I’d probably enjoy seeing how the trick was done more than the trick itself. (I was right. I love seeing Penn & Teller expose the trickery in magic tricks.)
Mentalists, on the other hand, rub me the wrong way. The tricks are less specular and more personal, more deceptive on an intimate level. A mentalists powers either come from a supposed supernatural force or from some unknown pseudosciency aspect of science. Kreskin, for example, claims that there is no paranormal aspect to his abilities, but does chalk it up to some not-yet-known force. I don’t think either of those things are the truth and that his techniques are much closer to the usual methods used by mind-readers and spiritualists. (Timely example: Kreskin’s prediction of Super Bowl results. Boxes within boxes and number codes give prime opportunity for misdirection and switching.)
I had hoped that Conversations with Kreskin might, if not giving a peek into how its done (that’s a lot to ask), at least give a good coherent look at Kreskin’s history as a magician. He’s been in show business for over 40 years and has seen the industry change. I would have liked more of that, even if tinged with the attitude that the current world is going to pot. Mostly the interviews in this book meander from subject to subject with a lot of name dropping and some very dusty history. Why talk about Houdini when you could talk about Copperfield, Henning, or Penn & Teller? One fairly interesting aspectis Kreskin’s disdain for hypnotism, though calling suggestive trances, which he does use in his act, anything else is splitting hairs. As we’ve seen, suggestibility is dangerous weakness in human psychology. Kreskin is well-aware of that and interested in educating the public. In very sensational ways, of course. It’s too bad that there’s a great deal of other nonsensical baggage that keeps a skeptic from finding the Amazing Kreskin actually amazing.
Genre: Non-fiction, interview/memoir
Why did I choose to read this book? Came across this book at NetGalley and figured it would be worth reading as research for One Ahead.
Did I finish this book? (If not, why?) Finished it. It was a quick read.
Format: EPub and Kindle.
Procurement: NetGalley, in exchange for a review.