My Current Book of the Week

It may come to no surprise, but I like to collect magic books. The good news is that I also read them! Cover to cover, I absorb all that I can. Sometimes it's hard and other times it's a breeze. The reading ease level may be because of the book contents itself, or just dependent on what's going on in the environment around me. Either way, I take in as much as possible.

I typically get through a single magic book in about a week. I don't read every week, or rather I don't read magic books every week. When I do pick one up though, it's my main focus.

This week I finally got the urge to take a book off of the shelf that's been collecting dust: New Magic of Japan by Richard Kaufman. I bought it back in 2020 which I was going through a "hey, let's buy a bunch of Kaufman books" phase. It looked like it had some interesting routines, so I went for it. And then it, and 20 other books, arrived.

What really made me think of the book was a photo I had taken for Instagram:

I really wanted to take a photo of this deck of cards with a book, and I figured this book would be a good selection. Since it was out, well, why not read it too?

The book itself has a variety of magic routines in it. I want to say it's mostly cards and coins, but there's really a fairly equal mix of everything. I usually only focus on card magic while reading and skip over other things, and I've so far done exactly that when I come to a coin routine. However, the routine Glass Load caught my eye immediately! The effect:

During a close-up performance, both hands are seen absolutely empty and a silk is draped over the left hand. A moment later the right hand lifts the silk and then releases it -- when it settles the form of an object is seen beneath it The performer whips the silk away to reveal a long-stemmed glass resting on the left fingers.
Tomohiro MaedaGlass LoadNew Magic of Japan

I likely wouldn't do this routine with a long-stemmed glass, but instead imagine a bottle of beer appearing out of nowhere. Definitely! I have an event coming up this weekend where I can try it out too. The only issue is waving a silk around. I want to make it more of an impromptu thing, and in this case, I'll be in someone's kitchen with a lot of friends just hanging out so maybe I can do it with a hand towel or something. I'll let you know =]

There are other neat non-card effects too like Cane from Fireball and Crafty Wand Vanish. The former sounds pretty difficult to make unless you already have the materials. It requires an Appearing Cane and Flash Paper -- I have neither but I looked them up and I really like this one on Vanishing Inc. because it comes with a list of tricks too. One of the tricks is "Fire Silk to Cane," which isn't quite "from a fireball" but it's pretty close.

Crafty Wand Vanish is a routine, or a quick visual vanish and reappearance of a wand, that I've seen in a handful of magicians' videos before. Even last week's episode of Penn & Teller: Fool Us featured it with a glass wand. It's a nice one to know!

Since this book is from a wide variety of magicians and it's written by Richard Kaufman, I don't quite pick up on the Japanese influence that I thought I would. There's really beautiful magic in here, don't get me wrong. I really enjoy the book and will be trying several of the routines from it (card magic and not!). However, I did kind of expect to learn more of the magic culture from Japan, their influences, and perhaps a shared feeling or style of their form. Perhaps, beautiful is that style?

If you don't have the book yourself, check out New Magic of Japan on Amazon, Vanishing Inc., or directly from Kaufman and Company.

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