Three books on the history of magic, recommended by Christian Cagigal, Fellow of Odd Salon and our resident illusionist.
For reasons that remain a mystery, even to me, I’ve dedicated most of my life to the art of magic (the illusion kind not the ritual kind). Performance, psychology of illusion, subversion of reality, transportation to another “place”, and the transformation that takes place, when one is faced with an event they don’t have a clear answer for – these things make my brain fire off on all cylinders, and that makes my soul dance with joy. These three books will be a great primer for your journey in this same world. So, go ahead, crack open a book. There’s a whole bunch of us that are ready to greet you on the other side…
Hiding the Elephant: How Magicians Invented the Impossible and Learned to Disappear
Jim Steinmeyer is a writer, historian, and designer of magic. If you’ve ever seen a big stage magic show, live or on TV, then you’ve probably seen an illusion Jim has designed. In Hiding the Elephant, Jim connects the changes in magic, to the changes in our culture, as well as showing the espionage-like lengths magicians would go through to one up each other, just to be considered the “Greatest Magician in the World.
The Original Tarbell Lessons in Magic, Volumes 1-8 Compiled
Dr. Harlan Tarbell, originally published 1928
This was my bible as a kid… or should I say bibles… The Tarbell Course in Magic was originally a correspondence course, and eventually compiled in the “mid-century” into six volumes with other volumes added later, after Tarbell’s passing. When I as a kid, each volume was about $30 – $40 so getting the first six volumes could cost a few hundred bucks, and took me years to collect. Here, the whole set, in one book, is $70. If you’re looking for the secrets to all magic tricks this is pretty much it: cards, coins, ropes, mind reading, talking to spirits, making people disappear, escapes, off the cuff tricks with everyday objects, show structure, everything! Many modern day magicians have created astonishing new effects and the origins of most of those effects can be traced back to this collection. The writing and point of view is old timey… and at times… ehem… problematic… But, it’s also full of magic knowledge that little me couldn’t have known otherwise.
Mike Caveney & Noel Daniel, Taschen Books
This is a book I WISHED I had. The original Taschen printing was a large and heavy tomb, worthy of its own pedestal, nay *room* in a library. Each page was another beautifully printed image, full color, of magic posters or “broadsides” from the past, along with history from three of magic’s most noted historians. However, this here is the smaller and much more affordable version. Even so, it stands at about 15 inches tall, about half of the original. This could still be a displayed centerpiece of your Odd Salon library.
Christian Cagigal is a Fellow of Odd Salon, professional magician, and expert on San Francisco’s haunted past. Find Christian at christiancagigal.com and SF Ghost Hunt
Books to inspire, awe & bewilder: See all our book reviews here: THREE ODD BOOKS
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