Sunday, January 13, 2013

Book Review: Fooling Houdini

Author: Alex Stone
Title: Fooling Houdini: Magicians, Mentalists, Math Geeks, and the Hidden Powers of the Mind
Description: Alex Stone was in graduate school studying physics, but he really mostly cared about his time spent learning magic tricks as an amateur magician. So he took some time off to write this book, which describes how hard one really has to work in order to be a decent entertainer with magic tricks. Alex does mostly card tricks, and he delves into the connections between his physics background and magic, like the mathematics of card shuffling. He takes time off from school and surveys the magic culture—classes, journals, competitions, and practitioners who are legends in that culture and unknown to the rest of the world.
Writing style: The book is written as a pretty straightforward memoir, with a few more digressions than I might like into the physics/magic connection—but my husband will love that kind of thing.
Audience: Anyone interested in magic, memoir readers, anyone fascinated by subcultures that we don’t usually get a look at.
Major ideas: Magic takes hours and hours of work. When we are amazed at a trick where the only possible way to do it would be to memorize the order of the deck, the magician really did memorize the order of the deck.
Wrap-up: I love this kind of book, and the topic fascinated me as well. 4/5*

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