Bob White Presents: It's A Matter of Style by Jason Womack
Reviewed by Jamy Ian Swiss (originally published in Genii January, 2002)
Regular readers will be aware that I rarely review lecture notes, except when I come across something of exceptional value (as in the several manuscripts of Chuck Smith that I have previously brought to your attention).
Some months ago while in Texas I had the fortunate opportunity of encountering Bob White, an accomplished master of sleight of hand from the Erdnase/Vernon/Miller school. While Mr. White is not widely known in the magic scene, preferring to remain below the radar of the general conjuring populace, his name is well regarded in underground circles (you may have encountered him recently as the actual originator of the so-called "Whisper" coin gimmick). Although I had briefly met Mr. White once before, this was the first time we had the chance to share some of our time and ideas, and an immensely rewarding time it was, at least for me. We shared several lengthy sessions and conversations, and Mr. White also kindly attended both a lecture and workshop that I presented, and all of this experience left me impressed with this influential local mentor.
It turns our that, while Mr. White has not published extensively, a young acolyte by the name of Jason Womack has produced a superb set of lecture notes of Mr. White's material. Keep in mind that they are lecture notes and so the production is minimal and there are no illustrations. However, the writing is quite good considering the format, and most of the material can be extracted with a bit of care, and the effort will be well worth the while of any serious student.
The notes include 15 items, all but two employing cards. The two non-card items are a handling of the "Two Copper, One Silver" trick, and a superb sleight-of-hand routine for the "Torn and Restored Tissue Paper." Card items include excellent approaches to the E.G. Brown Spelling Trick (a favorite of Rosini's), and a Slow Motion attack on the "Jazz Aces." A number of items focus on individual sleights, including Mr. White's One-Hand Tilt handling, which Mr. White devised over 30 years ago, the credit for which was long ago misappropriated. Other sleights include an excellent false count (if you saw this you'd want to learn it), a small packet palm, and a Gemini Count alternative. The book begins with a superb essay on "uniformity of action," a phrase of course made famous by Erdnase.
All of the above make this manuscript a resounding victory of quality over quantity, but I must tell you that the item that really thrilled me here is Mr. White's Double Lift. It has been easily 15 years or more since I've seen anything in the way of new Double Lift technology that I have found worthy of my own use, and frankly I didn't think it was likely there was anything left on the subject worth learning. (I exclude from these remarks the knuckle-busting multiplicity skills and juggling virtuosity of Lee Asher, which I find far more fun to watch than to attempt.) Thus I was stunned when I witnessed Bob White executing what is possibly the most natural, unassuming, and convincing Double Lift I have ever come across. I wish I had learned this in my youth because I don't think I'd have bothered to learn much else had I done so.
This is an exquisite approach that reveals the face of the card without any sense of display or contrivance; the magician simply looks at the card, seemingly as much for himself as for anyone else's purposes, and then proceeds from there with whatever actions are appropriate; it will take some practice but is by no means beyond the reach of most intermediate practitioners. It is, as they say, worth the price of the book. If you do not seek this our, it is your loss, and rest assured that those of us who now possess the manuscript will be pleased to keep the material to ourselves.