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The Magic Memories (58)

Hello everyone!

These are The Magic Memories 58, gone online Sunday, February 6th, 2022, at 0:07h sharp.

Several posts ago I mentioned book lists and had various readers who asked me to elaborate on that, so here are a few thoughts…

On Books and Related Matters

In an interview with Jorge Luis Borges, who is more than just casually connected to conjuring, and which was held in his magnificent private library in Buenos Aires, he quotes the pre-socratic philosopher Heraclitus to have said, “You never step into the same river twice.”
Heraclitus was talking about the passing of time: Everything changes with time, things are never exactly the same when you revisit them. Borges used this thought as an analogy when the reporter asked him if he had read every one of the books in his library. His sage answer was, “You never read the same book twice”, explaining that some books he had even read several times.
Although my magic library with about 4’000 volumes in 17 languages doesn’t even come close to Borges’s book collection, I haven’t read all of them, but a few dozen I’ve read several times, and each time I “rediscovered” a new book.  Incidentally, I “stole” Heraclitus’s thought for my Secret Agenda, talking about the problem of performing the same trick over a long period of time, something professionals do more than amateurs, and I said, “You never perform the same trick twice.” Let’s leave this for some other time…
So, talking about interviews and books, a question I’m often asked is the typical, “What books would you take to a desert island.” Now, that’s a tricky question. Most will expect a recommendation of “the best magic books”. BUT, there are no “best magic books”, in my opinion. Let me explain.
If you asked me what I think are the ten most important and influential books in magic, I’d give you a list that is completely different than if a beginner asked me what ten books he or she should buy and read first.
There is just no point in recommending to someone, who starts in magic, the books by Robert-Houdin, Edwin T. Sachs, Professor Hoffmann or Erdnase, who all wrote landmark books, or Bobo’s Coin Magic or David Roth’s Expert Coin Magic to a beginning coin enthusiast, the latter being far better served with Shigeo Futagawa’s Introduction to Coin Magic, an unjustly little-known book.
And of course you get a still different list if you ask any famous magician with what books he or she started his or her career.
Consequently, the list for the desert island, at least for me, would be again another one, as I would choose books I either haven’t yet read, or books that have lots of ideas, but superficially described, such as Hugard’s Encyclopedia of Card Tricks, not a very good book by my standards, but with lots of incomplete material I could still finish, to paraphrase André Gide, Nobel prize in literature, who once said, “I  love the unfinished, I can still complete it.”.
Thinking about these different types of lists, I challenged myself to make one of the fifty books I would want to keep if, for whatever reason, I was forced to give away all the rest.
After I had made the list, I asked myself why I would want to keep that book rather than another, and that’s how it became a “commented” list.
It ended up being longer than I had expected, taking me several days to complete by looking through my library and reflecting about the criteria of choice, some of which I had to make up for the occasion because I was not always conscious of why I considered this a book to keep.
Hence, to keep this readable, I will split the list in two, and here is the first part, in the hope you might find it interesting for reasons only you must know (I’ll give you mine). Here it is, in alphabetical order of the author’s last name.
Me (ca. 1990) in my Library studying Le Paul’s Card Magic (in the background a mind map for Card College 3&4)

The (ca.) 50 Books I Would Like to Keep – Part One

  1. Abrams, Anthony, Annemann – The Life and Times of a Legend. For the sheer amount of ingenious material, mental magic for magicians, not just mentalists, and a lot of card material. There are other very good books on mental magic, but if I was forced to keep just one, it would be this one, also because Annemann was the first mentalist I was exposed to in my reading carreer. A close runner-up would be the complete file of The Jinx (reprinted as three books).
  2. Andrus, Jerry, Andrus Deals You In.  For having met Jerry personally on various occasions: In 1982 I even spent an afternoon with him on a boat on Lake Geneva, and he performed almost the whole of his book for me, or so I remember…
  3. Aronson, Simon, The Aronson Approach. For being the first book I bought from this super-mind in magic. In 1996 I was booked to perform at a SAM convention in Las Vegas. When I came back to my room I had a message from Simon who invited me to stay with him in my stop-over to Chicago on my return trip. We had never spoken or correspondet before, he just knew me from my books! I stayed for almost a week in his and Ginny’s wonderful home, where I met John Bannon and Dave Solomon. Dave came with a bottle of “Opus One”, my first of several…
  4. Ascanio, Arturo, Navajas y daltonismo. For having been the first book I read from this genius of magic. In 1979 I first met him at the FISM convention in Brussels, and soon after I visited him at least once a year until his untimely death. He wrote the foreword to my Card College Volume 3. He soon started to call me his “son in magic”, the first one of a eclectic family, and I consider him one of my spiritual fathers: Yes, I have several – it’s magic, so it’s possible 🙂
  5. Ben, David, Dai Vernon: A Biography. For being arguably the best of the biographical works about the Professor, closely followed by Dai Vernon – A Magical Life by Bruce Cervon and Keith Burns, as well as Karl Johnson’s marvelous double-biography The Magician and the Cardsharp. I have both a connection to Ben and Vernon: David invited me as the guest of honor, together with Stephen Minch, to the prestigious private convention 31 Faces North, held in Toronto in 2007. And Vernon I met on three occasion, the first in London at Ron MacMillan’s One Day Convention in the early Eighties. I’ve written about this in an earlier post.
  6. Bloom, Gaetan, Full Bloom Vol. 1. & 2. For Gaetan being a friend of many years I greatly admire as one of the few geniuses in magic. He got me the first booking to the Casino de Monte Carlo through his agent Monique Nakachian, when I started out as a young professional in 1988. The creative mind of Gaetan just leaves me speechless – these tomes are full of it. For practical use, and for inspiration.
  7. Bobo, J. B., Coin Magic. For having been my first “full immersion” into coin magic. A book that kept me enthralled for years, and I practiced almost every item in it, and performed quite a few.
  8. Csuri, Frank, The Dr. Daley Notebooks. For having been the first of its genre for me to discover, for having provided dozens (hundreds?) of ideas and inspirations, and for leaving me almost as many times clueless.
  9. Decremps, Henri, Le testament de Jérome Sharp (1786!). For being the first didactical work on card magic, the third in a series of five landmark books, of which the first was La magie blanche dévoilée (White Magic Unveiled). I’ll keep this book as a representative of the early French magical literature that contains most of what matters in magic.
  10. D’hotel, Jules, La prestidigitation sans bagages ou mille tours dans une valise vol. 1 à 8. For being the “French Tarbell”, an infinite source of beautiful ideas.
  11. Etcheverry, Jesús, La magia de Ascanio vol. 1., 2 & 3. For containing the complete work (tricks, techniques, theory, interviews etc.) of my spiritual father in magic. Capably rendered by one of my closest friends in magic, Jesús.
  12. Fischer, Ottokar, Kartenkünste (Hofzinser’s Card Conjuring). For being arguably the most inspiring magic book in German I ever read, and for the pure genius that oozes out of it: Original tricks, marvelous techniques and poetic presentations.
  13. Fu-Manchu, Illusion Show. For being to this day one of the two best magic biographies. Tamariz told me that Fu Manchu’s show was the best Revue type show he has ever seen in his life. After reading the book I believe him.
  14. Ganson, Lewis, The Dai Vernon Book of Magic. Each and every item in this book is downright fantastic, and you could become a professional magician just by the material in this book alone.
  15. Ganson, Lewis, Dai Vernon Inner Card Trilogy. This L&L publications unites the first three books of the Inner-Secrets four-volume-series, the fourth being Dai Vernon’s Ultimate Secrets of Card Magic, which I would smuggle into the trilogy, with some kind of false count… Written in Ganson’s inimitable straightforward style.
  16. Garcia, Frank, Million Dollar Card Secrets. For having been one of my favorite books for material in my beginning years, regardless of the controversy that accompanied it.
  17. Garcia, Frank, Super Subtle Card Miracles. For the sheer amount of practical items… and of course because of his “Super Meatloaf” recipe that every magician who is invited for dinner at my home for the first time gets to taste. This book, and the one before, made many happy customers.
  18. Gardner, Encyclopedia of Impromptu Magic. For being the only book in this list I haven’t really read from cover to cover, but I’d do now…
  19. Gaultier, Camille, La magie sans appareils (Magic Without Apparatus). For being one of the great classics of French magic literature, a treasure trove of splendid ideas.
  20. Green, Lennart, Masterfile. This is the only set of DVDs, instead of a book. Of all the magicians I’ve known in my lifetime Lennart remains the most perfect imperfect human being I’ve ever met: I profoundly love and admire him. I’m infinitely saddened that I cannot get together with him anymore, but am thankful for the many sessions, meals and adventures we’ve shared, at my home, and around the world. Unfortunately there is no written work that does justice to this man’s genius, only plenty of videos, of which Luis De Matos’ is the most comprehensive.
  21. Hilliard, Greater Magic. Similar to Expert Card Technique for being among the most read works in my library, however, just the chapters on card magic (I haven’t read the rest…). A new discovery on each reading.
  22. Hugard’s & Braue’s Expert Card Technique. For having possibly been the book I’ve read most often. With each reading I discovered something I had overlooked or forgotten. I’ve taken this at least three times on a two-week vacation, only this book and a few decks of cards, and every morning I got up an hour earlier to study it.
  23. Hugard, Encyclopedia of Card Tricks. For being an inexhaustible resource of ideas, most unfinished, so I can still complete them (see the introduction to this essay). Ideas on topics you wouldn’t even imagine they existed…
  24. Jay, Ricky, Learned Pigs And Fireproof Women. Again, I would keep this book as a representative example of the para-magic genre. Besides, it reminds me of the several personal encounters with Ricky Jay, e.g., at the FISM convention in The Hague in 1988, where he congratulated me on the award in Card Magic. Years later I visited him when he was curator of the Mulholland Collection in Los Angeles. He would show me Max Malini’s notebook, but only from a distance🙂, and then let me view his TV show “Learned Pigs and Fireproof Women” even before it aired. I did a short interview with him (published in the German MAGIE magazine), but after half a dozen questions he interrupted, “OK, that’s enough.” A man as brilliant as eccentric.  And he invited me for lunch – I had my first pastrami sandwich then… and wondered how the New World came to be a superpower on eating sandwiches for lunch…
  25. Kaufman, Richard, Expert Coin Magic. Until then I knew David Roth only from photocopies of lecture notes unobtainable in Europe that Ron Wohl kindly made for me –  unfortunately the originals were double-sided, and Ron must have quickly run them through his Xerox, so I ended up with the notes missing every second page (I spent weeks trying to figure out the missing links…). Later I got to know David quite well, he spent several days in my house, and I organized and translated a couple of lectures for him here in Switzerland.

Ok, folks, that’s it for today – the second part to follow in the next post.

The Red Card

As I’m writing this, the news reaches me from Penguin Magic that they’ve finally released one of my pet effects “The Red Card” – I’ve knocked the socks off some of the brightest minds with this piece, now its there for you, and it brings tears to my eyes to see that they are offering it for peanuts ($ 39.50) – I would have paid $ 1’000 at the time for the secret alone, let alone the props to go with it. Anyway, you can get it from the Penguin webshop, or from me directly, as soon as I receive my batch.

Card College 3&4 – Personal Instruction Update

As you’re reading this (if you read it on SUN or MON, February 6th and 7th), we are in the course of taping the effects in Card College Volume 3 and their detailed explanation. This is going to be a heavy-weight of several hours… If all goes well, Volume 3 AND Volume 4 should be canned by the end of February, and after editing, released late March/early April 2022. Keep your fingers crossed for me 🙂

All the very best!

Roberto Giobbi

1 thought on “The Magic Memories (58)

  1. Roberto
    I sent you a post before Christmas when I intimated that I would be using your as a mentor. Working on a small repertoire of simple tricks with your DVD Simply Amazing as a template. Not the tricks but how you perform them, not to copy but to compare how you perform to how I perform, how can I do things better. The visual performance you can’t learn from a book.
    It was kind of you to reply and for weeks I have wondered should I explain lest you should think that I am somewhat morbid about old age. I am trying to be realistic. At 85 which ever way you look at it I really don’t have long to go as I said. That doesn’t mean that I will just sit around and wait for the grim reaper far from it. No one in my family is interested in magic so I decided to downsize, I sold my small collection of books on magic (approx 50) lest they wind up in a charity shop, all but four volumes. The Magic Way by Tamariz, I like the Oil and Water plot. Second Thoughts by Ramon Rioboo, he has some interesting ideas and two volumes by a certain Swiss gentleman, Select Secrets and a splendid little book Coincidences, an eclectic mix. Add to that half a dozen packs of your new playing cards, must stick with the Giobbi Brand.
    Why you may ask did I choose yourself and not say Eugene Burger, Juan Tamariz, or Jamey Ian Swiss as a mentor. Well a long time ago you introduced me via your Genni column to Mind Mirror, I tried it and have used it ever since. That hooked me on Roberto Giobbi, it was followed by rise and swap from volume 1 of card college. When I worked resteraunts it was my go to trick for a table for two.
    I still look forward to Memories on a Sunday morning and as I am an early riser I must be one of your first readers and each week I think, there’s another book in this!
    In your book list when you came to Lennart Green; who from what you wrote is not in good health? I was fortunate to meet Lennart in 2005, a really nice man. In 2008 at the Blackpool convention he gave me a copy of The Green Northern Lights Magic a comb bound booklet he put together for the conversion. It has the Rosetta shuffle, three versions of Rainman, Numerology and other interesting pieces. If you don’t have a copy and would like mine you are welcome to it.
    Enough, I’m taking up too much of your time so until 7am, same spot on the iPad
    Kind regards

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