Fooling Houdini, Alex Stone


This was such a lovely treat to read after Battle Royale – no one dies! At least, not without a Broken Wand Ceremony, which is a real thing and not at all made up.

I joked to my partner constantly while reading that this book was pretty much written by Gob from Arrested Development. (There’s even a very consciously Gob-styled I’ve made a huge mistake line, following a letter from the Society of American Magicians requesting Stone’s resignation.) Stone’s life in magic makes for an incredibly entertaining read, and he pokes fun at his passion even while relating relationship woes.

I enjoyed Stone’s path from inept huckster, humiliated at the Magic Olympics, to somewhat-adept-or-at-least-redeemed magician. There were darling throwaways in this book, like Jay Z having donated bookcases to a prestigious, secretive magic library. Or like his really inappropriate response to a mentalist trick gone wrong, that nevertheless made me laugh out loud. I’m an awful person.

Since taking one of Ted Bishop’s classes with fellow Bookstravaganzer (that’s a thing, right?) Arielle, I’m a lot more conscious of the crafting of nonfiction. Stone does a pretty decent job of balancing information, history, science, and terminology with his narrative arc. I would love this book to be longer, to be honest – there are bits of biology, physics, neuroscience, psychology, crime, ethics, art, performance, sociology, and so much more scattered throughout, and I am so ADD with information that now all I want to do is dive into each of these subjects and practice coin tricks (even though I’m not remotely magically-inclined) and finger exercises. Apparently only 60% of people can move the first joint of their pinky finger without their ring finger moving as well. I am not in that 60%.

I also learned a new word – quale, which is apparently a term from philosophy (plural qualia). My computer doesn’t even think it’s a word, so this book rocks because I am now smarter than my spellcheck.



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