What do Banachek and Derren Brown have in common?
They are both mentalists with overpriced books on mentalism!
Great! That's the concise, subtle and completly humorless review of 'Psychological Subtleties 1' out the way, but its not quite that simple!
If you are wanting to get into mentalism, this book should be on your list of reading material, but where to place it on that list is the hard part to ascertain. To do a fair review of 'Psychological Subtleties 1' I'm going to have to be absolutely blunt and not at all subtle.
You will most likely receive the fifth printing of this book, and that's actually a good thing. Since it's first printing, Banachek has added a lot of new material, variations and updated thinking to what would have essentially been a slightly longer than usual pamphlet.
I really liked the silver embossing of the dust jacket design on the actual book, and the foreward by Teller starts the book off very well - so much so - it's one of my highlight's of the book. But you're not looking to buy the book for it's embossing and foreward, so, what new things will you learn from it?
'PS1' breifly covers most bases in mentalism so is ideal for the begginer mentalist. However, it's fair to say if you're an absolute begginer, at least 50% of it you most likely already know and may have used in the school playground when you were 7 or 8. We're literally talking about the "think of any number between 1 and 10... now think of a number between 1 and 5. "Quick! Think of any vegetable!, now think of any colour. Your number is 74, your vegetable is a carrot and the colour you were thinking of is red!". Banachek explains why this will often be the case, which is fairly interesting, but kind of common sense.
The 'subtleties' throughout are basic and will by no means make you the next Derren Brown. However, much, if not all of the 'subtleties' are used by Derren Brown and the ilk. In fact, 'Watch It' was used to great effect in Series 3, Episode 5 at approximately 28 minutes in, and throughout Series 3, Episode 6 of Derren Brown's 'Tricks Of The Mind' TV Show. The well known 'No Gag' featured in this book also featured on the aforementioned TV Show (Series 3, Episode 5 at approximately 8 minutes in.)
Other points of interest that stood out for me are 'Universal Drawing' and 'Subtle Ambiguous Choices' which both touch on the drawing of a thought of image. Banachek's version of the mathematical mentalism trick 'Reversal' and the entire 'Favourite Cards' section that lists (allegedly) the top 20 most thought of cards. 'The Ring Of Truth' is another simple yet impressive effect featured.
Now, back to my humourless starting statement. The reason I think this book is overpriced (through no fault of Vanishing Inc, who definitely have the cheapest price I can find), is because I feel its aimed at the begginer mentalist. With that in mind, I would say their money would be wiser spent on '13 Steps To Mentalism' and Annemann's 'Practical Mental Magic'. Both of which provide a wealth of knowlege in much larger quantities and of the same quality. The best part? You can get both books here for approximately the same price as 'PS1'. Some may argue that '13 Steps To Mentalism' is a little "dry" and harder to read for the begginer, and I would agree, but in my opinion if you have £35 to £40 to spend, its better spent on the other two books. After you have read both previously mentioned books, then that's where the PS series comes in to fine tune your skills.
In conclusion, 'Psychological Subtleties 1' is easy to read, well designed and well laid out, and cover most bases of the basics, but at a high price. So if you have the money spare and an interest in mentalism, they are must haves for any magic book collection, (providing you actually read them, because every book that is bought and goes unread is in my opinion a waste of money, regardless of how much one paid.) I'd give it a strong 3.5 out of 5.