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My Best Card Trick Review

Official Review

April 23rd, 2003 3:44pm
Reviewed by David Acer
The premise is an engaging one: ask seven of magic brightest lights - Jack Avis, Frances Haxton, Al Koran, Gus Southall, Joe Stuthard, Edward Victor and Peter Warlock - to contribute their best and favorite card trick to a small, staple-bound collection destined for greatness. And if "best and favorite" had been the only conditions imposed, this would indeed be a glorious treatise. But, unfortunately, each contribution ALSO had to be "previously unpublished," meaning the contributors were forced to draw from a smaller pool of effects. The results, unfortunately, are somewhat disappointing.

The tricks range from busy (Avis' "The Lady Tells All," in which the Queen of Hearts apparently whispers the identities of four free selections to the magician) to boring (Haxton's "Spectator?s Choice," in which a card reversed in the deck by a spectator matches a prediction made by the magician). Joe Stuthard reveals his work on the "Card in Cigarette," which, while perfectly functional, is just about as bare-bones as one can get in terms of both method and presentation. Edward Victor details his regular-deck (plus seven gimmicked cards) method for the now-classic "Nudist Deck" (a.k.a. "Mental Photography"), which does have the advantage of allowing you to fan the cards to show all transformations, rather than just riffle them, and, at the conclusion, the pack can be handed out for examination. Peter Warlock tips a "Do As I Do" routine that requires two decks and a second deal. Personally, I find one-deck approaches to be equally effective and far more practical (see Karl Fulves' Self-Working Card Tricks for a fine example). Moreover, with all the exceptional sleightless methods for this plot at our disposal, I can't imagine why anyone would use one that requires a second deal. Gus Southall contributes "Casting a Spell," a borderline non-effect in which the spectator shuffles the deck, then you name a card (apparently off the top of your head) and spell the name of the card, dealing one card to the table for every letter, revealing the card you named on (or immediately after) the last letter. I find the fact that you name the card to be spelled really takes away from the impact, though the method Southall employs is both interesting and effective. Of the genre, however, I would instead direct your attention to Romaine's "Double Kicker" (Exclusive Card Secrets, Garcia, 1980), which is a superior approach to the plot. Finally, Al Koran's "Turnabout" is a contrived routine that requires a substantial set-up and an audience with the patience of Buddha to endure the lengthy plotline.

All in all, in 1953, at the time of its release, this book may have been of greater interest, but today's hobbiest and/or pro may find less to entice him. However, imagine a booklet of "best and favorite" card tricks from the artists listed above that would have allowed them to draw from the whole of their work - I think the result would have been a modern classic.

David Acer

Product info for My Best Card Trick

Author: Baron, Harry
Publisher: Ridgmount Books
Average Rating:  (1)
Retail Price: $0.00
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Manufacturer's Description:

Compiled by Harry Baron, My Best Card Trick is a collection of card tricks from seven magic luminaries of the day. Jack Avis, Frances Haxton, Al Koran, Gus Southall, Joe Stuthard, Edward Victor and Peter Warlock all contribute new material to this small booklet.

Stapled booklet, pp. 31, 7 b/w photos. and 7 diagrams. Published by Ridgmount Books, London, 1953.

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