Pocket Power by Jarle Leirpoll

Reviewed by Jamy Ian Swiss (originally published in Genii March, 1996)

This disorderly but at times quite interesting booklet wanders all over the place. Some of those places are very nice indeed, and some of them are no place at all. The opening trick is the transformation of a crumpled piece of toilet paper into an egg, essentially a practical, close-up handling for the classic Egg on Fan. I liked this routine, although the justifications for the final switch could probably still use a little help. The Coke (can) From Shoe is based, without credit, on Looy Simonoff's Earth Shoes (remember Earth Shoes? They were so ugly they must have been comfortable, and probably good for the environment, too!) from Super Magic by Paul Harris. There follows a chapter entitled Palming Cards, which contains some valuable thoughts on cover and misdirection, although I do not entirely endorse the author's specific choice of techniques.

The next chapter details a routine dubbed Norwegian Travellers, a handling of Vernon's Travellers. While I am less than thrilled with the proposed alterations in method, the original Travellers (despite umpteen variations in the literature) is probably as close to a perfect piece of technical construction as mortals are capable of achieving. I did like some of the author's ideas for turning the trick into a comedic performance piece, although purists will no doubt disagree. The author also describes a folded Card in Shoe based on the Kaps Card in Ringbox, and mentions his possible inclusion of this in Travellers; a more tasteful choice, no doubt, than the proposed alternative, the Card from Fly (as in zipper).

The next routine described, entitled No Gimmick Bill Change, essentially points out that the Kozlowski Hundred Dollar Bill Switch can be done without a thumb tip, a practice Mr. Kozlowski clearly stated in his original 1977 manuscript, and an approach I saw him perform at the Fechter's close-up convention shortly thereafter. The author of Pocket Power does provide a detailed and thorough description of the handling ... again. The next entry re-describes Norm Houghton's pocket loading technique, from Ibidem. In these two rather lengthy items, the author trips all over himself and the credits: He has inserted a credit addendum including the Kozlowski credit, which he appears not have read and would have rendered his own entry entirely redundant; as well, he upgrades his miscrediting of the pocket dodge from Francis Carlyle to Gordon Bruce, a better choice perhaps but still not accurate.

Thereafter comes five pages concerned with secretly stealing items from one's own pockets. This chapter is truly outstanding. Were the rest of the book up to this standard in the way of fresh and careful thinking, this booklet could have been a little gem. This is followed by The Almost Ultimate Newspaper Trick, a very good synthesis of ideas combining Absorbing News (liquid vanish in and recovery from newspaper) with the Gene Anderson Torn and Restored Newspaper, including a final clean-up that allows the magician to hand the restored newspaper out to the audience.

Next comes a brief but valuable chapter of "Tips and Techniques" that return to the subject of pockets. This concludes the major portion of the book, which is followed by a 16-page "bonus section" entitled "Good Enough for TV." The author is by profession a television camera operator and video editor, and shares the benefit of his professional expertise, coupled with his knowledge of magic. The material in this section is certainly valuable, especially to those who need to think about television work but have little experience at it—or who have had a chance or two but perhaps achieved only mixed results. This section includes a sound discussion of drama, an excellent but brief three pages concerning misdirection, and a variety of practical advice. While I completely disagree with the author's statement that "If it's good enough for television, it's good enough for anywhere"—as television is a terrible medium for any kind of magic, especially close-up, and few conclusions can be safely applied across arenas—the fact is that there is much of merit here, concerning a subject about which there has been little intelligent discussion in the magic literature, probably since Francis Ireland wrote The Success Book. All in all, this manuscript is probably worth the asking price, for a few good tricks, some valuable advice concerning magic on television, and some very good but all-too-brief material concerning the subject named in the title.

8 - 1/2" x 12" perfect bound; 64 pages; illustrated with approximately 96 line drawings; 1995. Publisher. Jarle Leirpoll