The Magician's LTD Cookbook by Andi Gladwin
Reviewed by Jamy Ian Swiss (originally published in Genii May, 2007)
Here is an enjoyable collection of 23 card tricks from a cast of characters who will be instantly recognizable to any-one familiar with the online discussion group, The Second Deal, as well as to other fans of contemporary card magic, including names like David Acer, Allan Ackerman, Paul Cummins, Steve Draun, Peter Duffie, Jon Racherbaumer, David Solomon, and many more (16 to be exact).
Written, designed, and published by Andi Gladwin, the book is the brainchild of Jack Parker, who as this is written continues to fight a life-threatening battle with leukemia; all proceeds from the book are being donated to the Anthony Nolan Bone Marrow trust in order to support their leukemia research.
The material in the book has been chosen within some specific guidelines—a "cookbook" limited to a certain selection of "ingredients." Each contributor was asked to limit himself to four ingredients or fewer, drawn from a minimalist list of 11 technical elements, plus any sleight personally created by the contributor. Thus this is a book of card tricks explored through a lens of methods that are within reach of most any hobbyist. And one benefit of reading material from these kinds of contributors is that the crediting is thorough and excellent, providing plenty of opportunity for further exploration by fellow enthusiasts.
Jason Alford's "A Cunning Odyssey" enables the magician to demonstrate the apparent ability to instantly memorize an entire deck via an efficient method that depends entirely on a crimped card and a simple Faro Slough-Off. Mark Aspiazu provides a different approach to a similar plot, via his "Imp Stack," a practical method for actually memorizing a string of 14 cards, combined with clever application. And Paul Wilson also tackles the memorization feat with "Memory Can," utilizing a smart and subtle sleight-of-hand solution.
Since there is a fair amount of noodling with existing plots in much of this material, combined with the methodological restrictions, some of the methods leave something to be desired when it comes to real-world application. Are we still engaging in procedures in which we remove four Aces from the pack, in order to put them face down on top of the deck, only to deal them face-down onto the table, hoping the spectators will still believe the Aces are in play or at least that they will be sufficiently polite so as to restrain themselves from voicing their suspicions? And in a trick entitled "Going Dutch," one selection rises to the top of the pack while a second selection reverses itself, whereupon the selections change places, and the second selection changes into four of a kind. This is not plotting, this is chaos.
On the other hand, the most commercial trick in the book might be the closing item, Tyler Wilson's "Slacker" (which, while the plot is credited to a published trick attributed to David Acer and Simon Lovell, is actually an idea first created and performed by Michael Weber and David Williamson, and subsequently per-formed at a NYCAN convention by Mr. Weber and Michael Close.) Chicago Cardician Steve Draun offers "Chicago Sandwich," a tightly conceived plot with an equally efficient method, in which a selection visually disappears from the face of the pack, only to be discovered as a previously introduced X-card sandwiched between a pair of Jacks centered in the deck. Another Chicago veteran, David Solomon, gives us "Double Open," a two-card version of the Open Prediction plot (that utilizes something called "roughening" fluid ...). And author Andi Gladwin provides a nice quickie in "Spellace," in which the Aces are located by spelling to them, to which a surprising transposition provides a pleasing kicker. All in all, this cookbook whips up a worthy collection of recipes for a worthy cause.