Review ~ Exclusive Magical Secrets

Cover via AbeBooks

Exclusive Magical Secrets by Will Goldston

Exclusive Magical Secrets, along with the later More Exclusive Magical Secrets (1921) and Further Exclusive Magical Secrets (1927) were part of the “locked books” by Will Goldston. Each book came with a padlock and key with a clasp built into the book to keep the book, in a cheap red leather binding, closed. Thus, you were not able to walk in a magic shop (Goldston’s, mainly) and browse the book. (via Magicpedia)

Why was I interested in this book?
I was particularly interested in the chapter on Buatier de Kolta and his expanding cube mystery. Buatier’s was a forerunner to Joseffy’s similar trick. The chapter did not disappoint. It presented a nice-sized bio of Buatier and De Kolta, since the origins of the act involved two men.

What Worked
Exclusive Magical Secrets is a weird little collection of magic subjects. There is an range of how-tos from small pocket magic to theater-scale stage illusions, but then there is also the de Kolta bio—the only biography in the book— and individual chapters on subjects like a whist-playing automaton, quick-changes, juggling effects, and a nice bit of philosophy concerning comedy before a section on comedic tricks. (And, yes, a couple escapes contributed by Houdini…)

It took Goldston a decade to put the book together, but he didn’t seem to end up with a cohesive treatise. Instead Exclusive Magical Secrets is sort of a survey on different types of magic that might actually be more useful than if he delved into only one aspect.

Will Goldston magician
Will Goldston, 1911
What Didn’t Work
Reading about how magic tricks are done can be really boring. Goldston actually has a pretty light touch, but if you’re not really intending to perform the tricks, any instruction can be a little mind-numbing.

Originally published in 1921, it’s also a somewhat dated. Many common objects and situations aren’t so common any more. Also, “Chinese magic” was a prominent fad at the time of the publication. Goldston doesn’t hide the fact than many Chinese acts were performed by white Western magicians, but he also has no problem with that.

Overall
If you don’t want to know how magic tricks are done (even ones that are 100 years old), this isn’t the book for you. If you do want to know how modern magic is done, there are a few tidbits here and there that are still applicable. If you’re into magic history, this is a glimpse into the style of the time with a few glances back to even older magic acts. I picked up my copy used at Bookmans and it was well worth it for the chapter on de Kolta alone.

Publishing info, my copy: trade paperback, Dover Publications, Inc, 1977
Acquired: 11/19/16, Bookmans
Genre: non-fiction

Visit my Magic Picks shop if you’d like your own copy.
(Amazon associates store)

Magic Monday & What I’m Reading, 2/6/17

MagicMonday

I like Mondays. I also like magic. I figured I’d combine the two and make a Monday feature that is truly me: a little bit of magic and a look at the week ahead.

Well, congratulations to the Patriots on their come-back Super Bowl win. It was something to see. But did you know that the Patriots have their own magician? John Logan is not only the team’s digital content associate, but resident mystifyer.

(Via iTricks)

It’s Monday, What Are You Reading?

I’m not off to a good start reading-wise in February. Ever have those moments when you’re just sick of words? No? Maybe just me. I’ll continue on. Here’s what I have on deck for the week:

The Good Soldier The Whole Art of Detection: Lost Mysteries of Sherlock Holmes Fascist Lizards from Outer Space: The Politics, Literary Influences and Cultural History of Kenneth Johnson's V
  • The Good Soldier by Ford Madox Ford
  • The Whole Art of Detection: Lost Mysteries of Sherlock Holmes by Lyndsay Faye
  • Fascist Lizards from Outer Space: The Politics, Literary Influences and Cultural History of Kenneth Johnson’s V by Dan Copp
  • Lots of Eric’s PHYSICIaN.
  • Short stories here and there.

It's Monday! What Are You ReadingIt’s Monday! What Are You Reading, hosted by Book Date!

Review ~ Spiritualism in Nineteenth-Century New Orleans

This book was provided to me by University Press of Mississippi via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Cover via Goodreads

Spiritualism in Nineteenth-Century New Orleans: The Life and Times of Henry Louis Rey by Melissa Daggett

Modern American Spiritualism blossomed in the 1850s and continued as a viable faith into the 1870s. Because of its diversity and openness to new cultures and religions, New Orleans provided fertile ground to nurture Spiritualism, and many seance circles flourished in the Creole Faubourgs of Treme and Marigny as well as the American sector of the city. Melissa Daggett focuses on Le Cercle Harmonique, the francophone seance circle of Henry Louis Rey (1831 1894), a Creole of color who was a key civil rights activist, author, and Civil War and Reconstruction leader. His life has so far remained largely in the shadows of New Orleans history, partly due to a language barrier.

Spiritualism in Nineteenth-Century New Orleans focuses on the turbulent years between the late antebellum period and the end of Reconstruction. Translating and interpreting numerous primary sources and one of the only surviving registers of seance proceedings, Daggett has opened a window into a fascinating life as well as a period of tumult and change. She provides unparalleled insights into the history of the Creoles of color and renders a better understanding of New Orleans s complex history. (via Goodreads)

I was attracted to Spiritualism in Nineteenth-Century New Orleans because I hadn’t considered that there might be regional differences in how Spiritualism was approached. I had thought of the rise and popularity of Spiritualism in this era as a mostly homogeneous experience, with at most rural/urban differences. Of course, I was wrong.

At its beginnings, Spiritualism was regarded with suspicion in the Confederate South. It was seen as just another Yankee “-ism,” along with abolitionism and feminism. Spiritualism did notably take hold in the Creole community, especially among free men of color.  Beautifully, from a research point of view, these séance circles kept detailed logs of their sittings. Though written in French, the logs of Henry Louis Rey survived to present day and offer a wonderful primary source. The spirit guides were often important personages  to the community, lost during the war, and their hopeful messages often reinforced the political issues of the day.

Melissa Daggett grounds her look at Spiritualism in the life of Rey and the history of New Orleans. That is this book’s strength, but also its weakness. Occasionally, I felt bogged down in the general history of the era. Additionally, while based on an incredible primary source, no translations of the log were extensively quoted. That seems to me to be a missed opportunity.

Publishing info, my copy: PDF, University Press of Mississippi, Jan. 3, 2017
Acquired: NetGalley
Genre: nonfiction

wintercoyer-16-17

More #COYER Reviews
Generator Points Earned: .5 (I started this book a little early.)
Generator Points Total: 1.5

Magic Monday ~ Transparent Man!

MagicMonday

I like Mondays. I also like magic. I figured I’d combine the two and make a Monday feature that is truly me: a little bit of magic and a look at the week ahead.

Do you know what I like more than magic? Science! Lucky for me, there’s a lot of overlap between the two. Richard Wiseman of Quirkology takes a look at an old, but never staged, light illusion that illustrates some of the current science behind invisibility. (If you click through, a link in the video’s description has more on the science of the illusion and on Robert Harbin, inventor of the Zig-Zag Girl.)

It’s Monday, What Are You Reading?

Spiritualism in Nineteenth-Century New Orleans: The Life and Times of Henry Louis Rey The Raven and the Reindeer The Guns of Retribution

All are ebooks for #COYER.

  • I started Spiritualism in Nineteenth-Century New Orleans a little early, but I was only 15% of the way through before the weekend. It’s an ARC that I want to make sure I get it finished by next Wednesday.
  • I’ve been meaning to read more of Ursula Vernon’s fiction; The Raven and the Reindeer seemed seasonally appropriate.
  • Next up: The Guns of Retribution by Icy Sedgwick.
  • I’ll also be finishing the last story in Asimov’s Mysteries for Deal Me In. (Okay, that’s not an ebook, but Deal Me In precedes all other reading challenges.)

It's Monday! What Are You ReadingIt’s Monday! What Are You Reading, hosted by Book Date!

Magic Monday ~ Star-Lord Level Misdirection

MagicMonday

I like Mondays. I also like magic. I figured I’d combine the two and make a Monday feature that is truly me: a little bit of magic and a look at the week ahead.

Misdirection is so much more than “Hey, look over here!” This trick by Chris Pratt is an excellent example of patter itself being misdirection. And despite the title of this video, this isn’t a card trick fail.

Plus, I really love his enthusiasm. It’s great seeing someone take joy in what they’re doing.

It’s Monday, What Are You Reading?

Hey. Hey! I finished a book yesterday! I’ll have a review of review of War of the Worlds on Thursday.

Judas: The Most Hated Name in History Spiritualism in Nineteenth-Century New Orleans: The Life and Times of Henry Louis Rey Asimov's Mysteries

This week I need to finish Judas. It’s due back at the library next Tuesday. I do have a renewal left, but I really should return it and the rest of the stack. Also, going to get started on Spiritualism in Nineteenth-Century New Orleans.

I have another of Asimov’s Mysteries for Deal Me In and I’m trying to get caught up on the issues of Fantasy & Science Fiction magazine. I bought a subscription back in September and, thankfully, they only publish bi-monthly.

It's Monday! What Are You ReadingIt’s Monday! What Are You Reading, hosted by Book Date!

Magic Monday ~ ‘Twas the week before Halloween…

MagicMonday

I like Mondays. I also like magic. I figured I’d combine the two and make a Monday feature that is truly me: a little bit of magic and a look at the week ahead.

I was trying to find a trick appropriate for the week before Halloween. But instead I found a trick with a duck. I can’t resist magic tricks with ducks.

It’s Monday, What Am I Reading?

Holmes on the Range The Amazing Adventures of the Escapist: Volume 1

This week I’ll be finishing a couple books I started during the readathon. While Holmes on the Range is definitely and #RIPXI book, it’s not at all spooky. But honestly, with temps here in the 90s, I may not get back into a Halloween mood until Thanksgiving.

Magic Monday ~ Hoping for a Dazzling Week

MagicMonday

I like Mondays. I also like magic. I figured I’d combine the two and make a Monday feature that is truly me: a little bit of magic and a look at the week ahead.

Some quick card magic and quicker patter from Alex Elmsley:

It’s Monday, What Are You Reading?

I’ve been behind the ball for the last two weeks. After a semi-restful weekend, I’m ready to begin the week with a clean(er) slate.

American Ghost was feeling like an anchor around my neck so I decided it was time to mark it DNF and move on. This week I will be finishing up From the Dust Returned by Ray Bradbury and moving on to The Accidental Alchemist by Gigi Pandian. My Deal Me In story for this week is “Prey” by Richard Matheson.

From the Dust Returned The Accidental Alchemist (An Accidental Alchemist Mystery)

Next week is the #FrightFall Readathon; most of my current TBR is mystery, so I’ll have to find something more appropriate for that.

It's Monday! What Are You ReadingIt’s Monday! What Are You Reading, hosted by Book Date!