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Inspirations: Performing Magic With Excellence Review

Official Review

January 22nd, 2016 12:06am
Reviewed by Joe Diamond
I read Dr. Larry Hass’ first book Transformations several years ago, and it was a dense, complex book making simple ideas as difficult and thought out as possible, and as much as I love simplicity in my magic and my theory, I enjoyed being challenged by that book.

Now, several years later, Larry brings us a second, equally dense book. This one offers his approaches and theories about other performers theories. There is a whole chapter about Tommy Wonder, for example. Some other chapters start out with a wonderful, simple quote, and while most people would “get the message, and hang up the phone” Larry looks at the idea from every angle until I as a reader wasn’t sure I even understood words any more. All kidding aside, it can be a breath of fresh air to see such a deep perspective, and have your assumptions constantly challenged. After all, that’s what magic is supposed to do, challenge assumptions.

All great theory is backed up by powerful performances and strong material. For example, we have the “Visions of Wonder” videos so we can see Tommy Wonder in his element, backing up his deep theories with exquisite performance. We have video of Dr. Hass as well, in the form of a TED talk on YouTube. He opens and closes his presentation with two pieces from this book. If you like that TED talk, and like that material, you will likely enjoy this book. The rest of the material is in the same vein.

Very little of the magic is extremely original. This isn’t a negative comment, just a note for those looking for BRAND NEW plots and methods which can not be seen anywhere else. He mostly teaches his takes on effects by creators like Woody Aragon, Jack Kent Tillar, and Robert Neale. He adds a touch to the script here, and a new kink to the method there, and to laypeople, it would possibly appear that little has changed, but for the more magically inclined audiences Larry admits he finds himself performing for now, the effects are much more deceptive. So if you’re looking for some complex magician foolers, there are some great selections here.

The only reason for a star lost from the overall rating is crediting. He constantly references The Magic Mirror, a book that has two authors, Robert Neale and David Parr, but only ever lists Neale as the author. I have The Magic Mirror on my shelf, I even wrote a review of it, and I can clearly see the second author’s name on the front of the book. It’s also clearly listed here on the MLA site. It puzzles me how such a clearly smart guy could make such an obvious mistake in his book that talks so much about crediting, and knowing where ideas come from. However, I’m sure it was an honest error that will obviously be pointed out by others and will hopefully be corrected in future editions.

Overall, if you like to be challenged by magical theory, and want to learn some tricks along the way, you’ll get a lot out of this book!

Product info for Inspirations: Performing Magic With Excellence

Author: Hass, Larry
Average Rating:  (1)
Retail Price: $49.95
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Manufacturer's Description:

In this long-awaited follow-up to Transformations: Creating Magic Out of Tricks, Lawrence Hass opens a path for magicians to reach toward better magic performances and shows.

Covering many topics of supreme importance to working magicians, Lawrence shares his practical thinking and inspirational ideas in 30 short essays. He then shows his thinking in action through 14 fully-developed routines from his professional repertoire.

Lawrence Hass, Ph.D., is the Associate Dean of McBride's Magic & Mystery School in Las Vegas and Professor of Humanities at Austin College. In 2010, he retired early from classroom teaching to pursue magic full time as a performer, teacher, author, and publisher.

Product Details:
Hardcover, 7.25" x 10.25", 360 pages


Lance Burton

In reading Inspirations, the new book by Dr. Larry Hass, I can't count the number of times I said to myself, "Larry is crazy for giving away this routine!" Really, who would give away such strong, well thought out, killer material for the price of a book?
I'll tell you who! Someone who cares deeply about the Art of Magic! Someone who wants to elevate the level of Magic. Someone who loves Magic and Magicians, that's who. The tricks in this book are great, but the thinking behind them and the philosophy behind the thinking are even more impressive.
I congratulate my friend, Dr. Larry! With the publication of Inspirations he has made a significant and long-lasting contribution to our art. This is required reading for the serious student, amateur, and professional.

Bob FitchHave you ever dreamed of becoming a full-time pro or at least a really good magician? And getting that mastery as quickly as you could? Then I suggest you open the pages to Larry Hass's new book, Inspirations. Along with his own worker effects, it offers magicians a complete list of things to consider as they strive to create better magic and better magic shows, and it does so with a depth that I've never really encountered before. The book is clear, thoughtful, and persuasive, and I couldn't put it down.

Max Howard
Inspirations is an extraordinary book about the art and craft of magic. It expresses and teaches a complete approach to thinking, doing, and living as a magician. Throughout, we are asked to consider what is our Purpose, what is our Passion and what is our Process? Experienced performers will be reminded that there is still much work to do. Beginning performers will see clearly the work that must be done. Inspirations is a significant book of wisdom and insight, written by a Master Teacher, worthy of deep thought and personal reflection. It has my highest recommendation.

Joshua Jay
Inspirations is Larry Hass's intensely personal and heartfelt journey into the theory and practice of magic. He artfully maps out his vision for great magic, and illustrates his point with practical, thoughtful material. I enjoyed it very much.

Ross Johnson
This is an inspirational book. Larry has taken a point of view on performance that many people, due to ignorance and fear, have disparaged. The techniques are practical, approachable, and fun. The text is thought provoking. The effects are actually doable! Studying it made me re-examine my approach to performance and presentation. Changes will be made.
Larry Hass has become the contemporary Henning Nelms. Inspirations is every bit as essential to today's thinking performers as Nelms's Magic and Showmanship was generations ago. And if you are not interested in improving your performance, the tricks and routines alone are outstanding.

Mac King
Just got my hands on a preview copy of Inspirations: Performing Magic with Excellence. The tricks are cool, the essays are clear and to the point. The amount of wisdom, advice, information and guidance that my pal Larry Hass has managed to generate, distill, extract, and present in one book is amazing.

Jan Rose
Dr. Hass's Inspirations is a wonderful book that has enhanced my own work, both creatively and practically. Indeed, Larry understands the challenges of a working pro and speaks to their needs with great clarity-so much so that I now carry one of these essays in my actor's notebook. Inspirations is a book I will reach for over and over again!

If you are looking for a guide on how to create meaningful pieces of magic and how to better connect with your audience, Inspirations is a must-read book. Larry Hass is not only a fantastic performer who puts meaning and love into the magic he performs, he's also a lovely human being, which shines through and endears him to his audiences.

Juan Tamariz
Thank you, Larry, for doing so much [in this book] to help raise the intellectual level of our beloved Art of Magic!

Rob Zabrecky
Inspirations is a beguiling and thoughtful collection of essays and routines from one of magic's progressive practitioners.

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