Astonishing Essays - Andi Gladwin (Volume 6)

By Andi Gladwin
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Astonishing Essays - Andi Gladwin (Volume 6)

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Astonishing Essays - Andi Gladwin (Volume 6) - magic
Astonishing Essays - Andi Gladwin (Volume 6) Astonishing Essays - Andi Gladwin (Volume 6) Astonishing Essays - Andi Gladwin (Volume 6) Astonishing Essays - Andi Gladwin (Volume 6) Astonishing Essays - Andi Gladwin (Volume 6)

Andi Gladwin is a lifelong student of magic. In this Astonishing Essay, he passes on the lessons learned from two decades of studying the craft. He carefully demonstrates how magicians inadvertently limit their potential by not structuring how they learn magic: his approach is both methodical and easy to apply, helping you become a better magician.

Andi opens his essay with in-depth detail on important topics such as what to study, the student mindset, material selection, and how to avoid the "next book trap." You'll learn Andi's process for studying a magic routine, and how to modify it to make it your own. You'll learn how Andi creates "mini" magic studies, and how he has developed techniques to help streamline the studying process.

Full of interesting magic history and practical examples, Focusing on Magic approaches a topic that is seldom discussed in magic: how to be a better magician through study.

Softcover. 72 pages. Volume six of the Astonishing Essay series.

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Customer reviews for Astonishing Essays - Andi Gladwin (Volume 6)



This essay by Andi, is very well thought out. If you have distractions when sitting down for a session of practice. This essay is very top notch, in its pointers and suggestions for setting up a practice/rehearsal area.
I highly recommend this booklet, with 10 stars.



I used to live in Maryland and was lucky enough to frequent the Denny and Lee Magic Studio where Denny Haney was the proprietor. (Anyone lucky enough to see Denny perform, or visit his shop, knew that Denny was a master of his art form and was always willing to help others, including sharing his vast knowledge of magic.)

Fortunately, there was always interesting conversation in Denny's shop, as people would wander in with their magical dilemma of the moment. In one of the conversations, I pointed out that, "Becoming a magician is a journey." Denny seemed pleased until I followed up with, "But it is so hard to get an education." To understand his consternation you must understand that Denny was a fervent advocate of magic books. Perhaps more ironic, in that moment, we were sitting in a magic shop overflowing with hundreds (if not thousands) of lecture notes, books, and DVDs.

My point was, there is no dearth of resources for learning magic. If anything, there may be too much, at least for those who are early in their magical journey. With so much, it can be difficult (especially for a novice) to know where to start and in what order to educate yourself. In other words, what should your magic curriculum be?

I am happy to say that Andi is acutely aware of the dilemma and attempts to tackle it in his Astonishing Essay "Focusing On Magic". If you also feel a bit overwhelmed by the "firehose" of available magic information, then this essay is for you.

VI Monthly


Andi Gladwin's Astonishing essay is a small book packed with wonderful advice and insights. Initially, I was reticent to buy it as the price point did not match the size of the product I was expecting. However, I picked it up at a convention and just recently read through it. I have to go back several times and take notes because there is gold between those pages. If you are a beginner, intermediate or full time pro, there's something for you. Advice on studying and buying magic books, practice space, and the best piece of gold: use and organization of practice time. I rarely hear of lessons being taught about the usage of the precious few hours we have available to practice. This book explains it all in a very hopeful and helpful manner, no condescension.

It's a compact book full of great information that will change the way you study and buy magic. Bravo Andi! You enabled this distractible magician to read it in one sitting and wanting to take notes.



This book helped me realize that there was great fun in taking a look at my own collections of magic and inspired me to think about magic more academically. It will help you organize your performances into categories of interest and in my case get me thinking about it.



I only wish I had this book 50 years ago when I started magic. It is an easy fascinating read. As stated elsewhere, it doesn't go very deep in the subject, but I would argue that it was never intended to be deep. It presents an overview about how to think about how and why one studies magic, which it does wonderfully. As organized as I am with 50+ years studying magic (both as an amateur & full-time professional) I got several great ideas that I want to implement. I have 3 of the 6 printed (so far) and have loved each and everyone of the essays in this series. I can hardly wait to read the complete set. Well worth the money spent.



Worth the read.

VI Monthly


TL;DR: Recommended with reservations. Andi Gladwin’s contribution to Vanishing, Inc’s Astonishing Essay series is a solid overview of how to study magic and good starting point on a critical subject that does not receive the attention is deserves, but it doesn’t go anywhere close to deep enough and the price point is steep for what this is, especially considering the poor editing/proofing.

Focusing on Magic is #6 of a planned 10 booklet series called “Astonishing Essays” by Vanishing, Inc. These are long essays published as individual small square paperbacks.

Andi Gladwin's contribution to the series is an essay on how to study the art of magic. This, for me, is a critical aspect of magic that has not had nearly the focus in the literature that it should. While Andi moves the ball forward a bit. The definitive book on this topic remains to be written (at least to my knowledge).

Andi starts with a nice discussion of how to set your goals for your study. He spends a significant part of this talking about how to select books on which to study, how to build a reference library and how to focus on what you have rather than hoping the NEXT book will solve whatever problem you have. As a magic bibliophile and book collector, I found this material strong, but wish he had done a version of the "Five Foot Bookshelf" to give those who are drinking deeply from the well of magic literature for the first time some direction to key books that are useful for nearly all students of magic even if he is anti-syllabus. I am blown away by how many magicians I have met who have no inkling of who Harlan Tarbell is or who have never seen a copy of the Mark Wilson course, or are unfamiliar with Bobo, Royal Road or Card College. They are generally focused on the download, YouTube lesson or gimmick of the day. Andi could have done someone like that who stumbled onto this essay a great service by giving them an initial push toward good literature.

Andi talks about setting up a study area and time and even gives us some pictures of his work space. Maddeningly, his photos and text give little indication of how he organizes his books or his props--and organization is key to effective learning both in terms of efficiency of time and focus. In the photos, that information is frustratingly hidden within the boxes on his desk or in the books just out of frame. Andi discusses his practice of organizing his notes and ideas using Evernote as his tool of choice. We even get a picture of his main Evernote screen. But once again, Andi shows us the door but doesn't unlock it. Show us how an individual note is structured, how you organize the notes within Evernote, and how you keep track of and return to the notes. This needed a lot more about the workflow than it provided.

We also get an outline on how to study an individual trick and Andi does spend some time here. I wish he were not as adamant about avoiding using a provided script--magic seems to fetishize the need to toss out good scripts even when the performer is not an adept writer in an effort to make it "their own", but that is a different essay I need to write sometime--but that aside, this is section by far is the meatiest, most useful, and most critical to study section of this essay.

I like this book because it does put the focus on the under-appreciated area of studying the art. Too many magicians spend their time learning the next trick, but not how to put in the study time and effort to really become masters of the art. There is some good information here, albeit it at a 30,000 foot level, and is worth the time and effort to read. For that reason, I recommend it.

The book presents two problems for me though that cause me to place reservations on my recommendation.

One, it doesn't go nearly deeply enough on this important topic. There is SO much more than can be written on studying, rehearsal, organization, and practice. I suppose Andi's argument for not going deeper is that this is an essay and not a true book and I suppose that's true. And while the market for such a book SHOULD be wide, I suspect that the work it would ask of the reader would keep it from actually selling widely. That said, there is a lot of missed opportunity here.

The other issue is the price point. This book is $25. It's a small paperback-- I'm guessing about 5" x 5" or so. It's certainly nicely produced for a paperback on excellent paper and attractive gold ink on the heavy textured cover. But it's still a small paperback booklet at just 72 small pages. It is a terrible size for shelving with most other books. It is hard to argue this is a $25 product. (Given my astonishment at the price, this may be why the series is called “Astonishing Essays….).

Bear in mind this is a 10 book project so to acquire them all (which I have as a book collector) is going to be $250. If Vanishing then goes and prints them as a compilation volume at a later date, I am going to be especially unhappy.

This pricing issue becomes even more bothersome because the book has a number of glaring and obvious typos in the text. The proofing/editing team was asleep at the wheel here. Given the price point, quality control should have been better.


Community questions about Astonishing Essays - Andi Gladwin (Volume 6)

Have a question about this product? It's possible others do too. Ask here and other Vanishing Inc. Magic customers will be able to respond with assistance! Alternatively, email us and we can help too.

  • Pablo asks: Hi the book is in spanish lenguage

    • 1. SGKYDUYEN answers: It's an English book.
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  • Danny asks: Will this be made in a hardcover?

    • 1. Vanishing Inc. Magic responds: There are no hard cover plans for the essays as I type this.
  • Johan asks: Will this book be up for sale at the next The Session?

    • 1. Vanishing Inc. Magic responds: If it doesn't sell out, it will be there!
  • FrĂ©dĂ©ric asks: Are the process and approach described in the essay suitable also for mentalism?

    • 1. Vanishing Inc. Magic responds: Definitely. The thoughts here apply to all areas of magic.
  • John asks: Any plans to make a kindle version of this?

    • 1. Vanishing Inc. Magic responds: Not at the moment.
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