Vanishing Inc. Magic publishes many books—more, in fact, than any other magic publisher today—and we’re proud of all of our titles. But Preserving Mystery is an important book, one that will be studied and discussed long after most books fade into the periphery. We are exceedingly proud of this collection of essays by the inimitable Jamy Ian Swiss.
Jamy Ian Swiss is many things to many people: award-winning performer, esteemed lecturer, outspoken critic, erudite historian, pioneering skeptic. But he is, above all, one of magic’s most important voices—a lifelong advocate for the art. As a book reviewer and feature writer for Genii magazine for 18 years, and now a reviewer and blogger at the Lyons Den for magicana.com, Mr. Swiss has long provided readers with a fire hose of insight, provocation, and humor, and while his critiques are occasionally scathing, they are invariably earnest. In Preserving Mystery, Swiss turns his focus to the performance of magic, and how to improve and elevate the art and its artists.
Reading Swiss’s work, we find ourselves pushing through the boundaries of our field to new terrain. He brings the sensibilities of past masters to the present day, and with wit and personality, he gives us a path to enlightened performance.
Preserving Mystery includes an introduction by New Yorker contributor and best-selling author Adam Gopnik, including:
“Making Introductions” - A rumination on how we learn, the value of books and videos, and where the magic industry leads magicians astray.
“Suiting Repertoire” - Swiss explores the hidden value in laying a broad, sturdy foundation in your study of close-up magic, and how, precisely, to find the right move or trick for the right occasion.
“The French Drop” - In an unexpected turn, Mr. Swiss thoroughly dissects and describes (including illustrations) the hackneyed French Drop, providing valuable lessons not only for this sleight, but in how to approach every facet of your magic.
“SSSS: The Swiss Sleight Study System” - This, perhaps the most utilitarian essay in Preserving Mystery, is a roadmap on how to learn sleight-of-hand magic with cards and coins.
“Preserving Mystery” - In the most personal essay in this collection, Swiss reflects on his own path to magic, and then zooms out to ponder how all of us might deepen the magical experience.
Contents of Preserving Mystery
- Foreword by Adam Gopnik
- Cannon Fodder
- Hacked to Death
- What Works
- How Do We Insult Thee? Let Me Count the Ways
- Critical Thinking
- Email from a Friend
- Dichotomies: Mentalism versus Mental Magic
- Escape Artistry
- Al Flosso: Coney Island Fakir
- The Skinner Touch
- A Giant Among Us
- Presto: A Grand Master
- A Magician Prepares
- Making Introductions
- Suiting Repertoire
- On the French Drop
- Gaffs versus Skill
- SSSS: The Swiss Sleight Study System
- Preserving Mystery