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Shattering Illusions Review

January 25th, 2003 10:16am
Reviewed by Spencer Singleton
The problem with a book of opinions is that, nearly without fail, the reviews of the book tend to be reviews of the opinion; hence, if you disagree with the author, the book sucks and if you agree with the author, the book is a godsend.

This is especially true with any book in which the author attacks his targets with cynical, sarcastic prose. Hence, this is especially true with Shattering Illusions by Genii's book reviewer Jamy Ian Swiss.

I received this book for Christmas and have read it a couple of times since then. Being that this is a book of opinions written in the afore-mentioned cynical, sarcastic style it is only fair that I admit my bias right now: Often, I agree with what Mr. Swiss has to say. A lot of magic DOES suck, a lot of magicians give FAR too much thought to how they will raise the money for the latest trick or video and not NEARLY enough thought to how they will present the material, a lot of magicians COMPLETELY disregard the desires of the audience, etc. At least, that is my opinion. See how self-righteous, self-important and downright obnoxious that sounds if you don't agree with it? That is the downside of writing opinions on paper: it is nearly impossible to NOT seem like a jerk to those who disagree with you.

Yes, Mr. Swiss does seem to be providing a right-way/wrong-way system. Yes, this is hypocritical and contradictory in relation to some of his opinions of other similar "theory and philosophy" books of magic. But, then again, like is hypocritical and contradictory, as are the people who reside in it.

As a magician who believes, as I stated, that too little thought is given to MANY aspects of our craft, I stand fully behind ANY work that will make you truly think and introspect. Agree with it or not, Mr. Swiss raises some valid points, points you to some valid questions and offers some solutions (though they are often presented as facts, not possibilities).

Overall, I think this book is important for many magicians to read; sadly, those that need it most won't give it a second look...

Product info for Shattering Illusions

Author: Jamy Ian Swiss
Publisher: Hermetic Press
Average Rating:  (3)
Retail Price: $35.00
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Manufacturer's Description:

Twenty insightful and occasionally incendiary essays on the topics of why magicians have failed to stop the exposure of secrets to the public; why magic is held in low esteem by much of show business and the public, and what can be done about it; intellectual property rights in magic; the problems of presentation for mentalists (and one solution); should you learn magic from books or from video; how to tell a good trick from a bad one; the fallacy of "naturalness" in sleight of hand; commercialism, its benefits and pitfalls; discovering an on-stage character and a style that can lead to success--and an answer to the troubling question, Why do we do magic?

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