Note ye ed's email address:

Season's Greetings.

Book of the year!



The family tree.

December 2016

Season's Greetings!

Welcome to the Christmas shopping edition of Little Egypt Magic. This issue is all about books, and every one is a winner. First up or your shopping consideration, we'll take a look at the new book of Vanni Bossi material, then at some of the better general books of 2016, and finally at the classics that continue to make Magic Inc. one of magic's most influential and relevant publishers.

Thanks go out to everyone who said hello this year, either in person or online. I especially enjoyed getting together with you at Magi-fest in Columbus, for one day at least of the S.A.M. convention in Indy, at MAGIC Live VIII in Las Vegas, and watching Caleb Wiles command a room here in Bloomington.

But it's family that continues to make life worth the trouble, and I'll close again this year with photos of my grandkids. As always, Maleficent and I wish you a very Merry Christmas, or whatever holiday suits your fancy, and a Happy New Year to all.

BELLISSIMO -- The new book of Vanni Bossi magic from Hermetic Press is a strikingly handsome volume with a title so fancy I had to look up one of its words. A sneak peek (it is destined to reappear, gift-wrapped, beneath my tree on Christmas morning) reveals that its unique style ("various printers' devices") derives from a 1593 Italian treatise on card conjuring by Galasso. Accordingly, it is "composed and brought to light" by Stephen Minch and "illuminated" by Tony Dunn. I found myself quite enjoying its stylistic quirks, from the titles themselves (one brief chapter is "Mirabile Visu," and I loved the twist of calling the card chapter "The Angels' Playthings") to the ornate fonts to the clever layout. Trick descriptions (there are 44 of them) float willy-nilly on the page in maroon while the instructional text snakes around them (and the illustrations) in black.

Vanni Bossi's legacy.

The methods behind the routines that make up The Aretalogy of Vanni Bossi are unexpected, to say the least, and I won't be convinced that they all work until I try them (some involved unusual substances). In Vanni's favor, his The Surfing Card Stab worked perfectly the first time, a delightful surprise. Among the items in the generous card chapter (28 titled effects), I enjoyed a card in glass effect, a restored card in picture frame, an impromptu force, a couple of alternatives to the Mercury Fold, a card to box, a card to head of beer (my favorite in the book), a color change in a sealed bag, two cards from a sealed box, and a double card rise in a sealed bag.

Coins star in the second chapter (12 items), among which I liked a coin through hand, over a dozen Okito box turnovers and ruses including one routine in which the box is half filled with water, a switch under a hank, and a coins through table that does not involve lapping.

All this plus a novel introduction of a thumb tip, a pencil through bill that could be a miracle, and two elaborate Jerx-like scenarios, one using a swimming pool and the other a drive in the country that could get you arrested for littering.

16th century adornment.

In short, in both format and content, this is quite unlike any magic book I have previously encountered. Lavish cover and end papers, hardback, 192 pages. It is the first book from Hermetic Press to be marketed by Penguin, and they will sell you one for $65. I bought mine from H&R Magic Books.

THE BOOKS OF 2016 -- If you can afford only one book this Christmas, I recommend David Linsell's The Spirit of Magic, pictured at the top of the page. Reviewed here in August 2016, it is a simply sensational compendium of the larger-than-life images that define 20th and 21st-century magic. I understand that David printed only a few hundred, so take advantage of the opportunity to own one. I can think of no other book that will similarly raise your spirits and make you proud to be a magician. How wonderful life is that we got to know these subjects. Per David's recent ads, send $40 via Paypal to (I am assuming that is for U.S. orders.)

Stunning photography.

The year was a fine one for magic books in general, with Richard Kaufman's Tenyo-ism as the coffee table book of the year, with two major entries for stand-up magic (John Lovick's Handsome Jack and Gene Anderson The Book), with such out-of-the-box sources as this month's Vanni Bossi book and The Jerx Volume 1, and with brilliant material to be found in Lewis Jones's Top Deck (see the trick Avalanche!) and Raj Madhok's Mysteriouser and Mysteriouser (check Chair Way to Heaven). Although I rate David Linsell's book as the magic book of the year, the traditional books that I am having the most fun working through are John Bannon's Mentalissimo and The Secrets of So Sato. The two contain plenty of brilliant material within the range of mortal hands. Your audiences will thank you.

Sixty years of It's Magic! in one fine book.

I'd be remiss of course to not mention two books of my own. First up is Milt Larsen's fine hardback Sixty Year Celebration It's Magic! 2016. The book grew from a Little Egypt Gazette interview into a 60-year retrospective of It's Magic! filled with dozens of color photos. As she does with all Milt's books, editor Carol Marie did all the heavy lifting, and we thank her along with sponsor Randy Pitchford. Magic is full of wonderful people. ($25 if you can find one. Check the Magic Castle.)

Also of mine, mentioned here frequently of late, is my middle-grade novel McGrave's Hotel. Don't let that "middle-grade" bit dissuade you. Magicians of any age should enjoy the adventures of a young bellhop at a haunted hotel battling dark forces with a new love interest at his side (Death's daughter!). I am quite fond of both this volume and its predecessor, Lucas Mackenzie and the London Midnight Ghost Show. Both are available at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, etc.

LATE TO THE PARTY -- Because my daughter and her family have moved back to Indiana from Chicago, I am no longer there as often as I would like and reluctantly declined to attend a potluck Holiday Party at Magic Inc. Thanks so much to Sandy, Susan, and Pedro for inviting me. They are on my mind, also in the magic news with a recent lecture by Max Maven and a show/lecture coming up (January 6) by Eugene Burger.

Growing up in the Midwest, Magic Inc. was my go-to dealer through high school and college. The books that defined close-up magic for me included The Magic of Matt Schulien, Bert Allerton's The Close-up Magician, Steranko on Cards, Don Alan's Pretty Sneaky and Close-up Time, and Artful Dodges of Eddie Fields. Most are still available from Magic Inc., and all were briefly reviewed here in June 2009. I rounded out my early education with numerous Marlo and Leech titles, also still available. These were amazingly influential books.

Although I couldn't attend the Holiday Party, the least I can do is mention some of the shop's books that we've reviewed here. These books are not only still available, but can be had for free shipping through December 16 (check with the store for details; briefly, order $49 worth of stuff that includes one Magic Inc. trick or publication). Any of the following could make for a very happy Christmas morning.

The kid tells all.

Beating a Dead Horse by Sandy Marshall. One of the best, if not the best, magic biographies, a grand mix of text and photos. Reviewed here in January 2010. $69.95.

Groundbreaking card magic

Ed Marlo's Revolutionary Card Technique. The hardback compilation of Marlo's most groundbreaking material, reviewed here in April 2003. $50.

Cardially Yours by Ed Marlo. Anther great hardback compilation, over a dozen Marlo titles including Early Marlo, Pasteboard Presto, Amazing, Isn't It?, Marlo's Discoveries, Oddity & Other Miracles, Let's See the Deck, Off the Top, Marlo in Spades, and The Cardician. What a pile! $59.95.

Irish icon.

McCombical by Billy McComb and friends. A delightful visit with Billy and his magic, a surprisingly unsung modern classic. Reviewed here in October 2014. $49.95.

A journalist writes card man stuff.

The Complete Al Leech by Al Leech with Danny Rudnick. All the great Leech tricks from my high school days shuffled into new chapters. Reviewed here in July 2014. $49.95.

A questionable goal, but great methods.

Betcha! How to win Free Drinks for Life by Simon Lovell. And you can! Reviewed here in July 2014. $25.

At Christmas once again, we indulge in a family visit ...

Max, Audrey, and Charlie.

Stuff your stockings with spooky paperbacks: McGrave's Hotel and Lucas Mackenzie and The London Midnight Ghost Show.

The official Lucas Mackenzie web site.

Follow us on Twitter.

Peace on earth, good will to men.

Little Egypt Magic is the erratically updated web site of Steve Bryant, spawned (the site, not Steve) by a former internet magazine known as The Little Egypt Gazette/for magicians only.

Steve Bryant is an obscure magician and writer who generates this site from an iMac in Bloomington, Indiana. He used to journey to and perform magic in Little Egypt, the local name for extreme southern Illinois, where the towns bear such names as Cairo, Thebes, and Karnak.

Past issues of this web site: Index to Past Issues

Notice: Any limited use of copyrighted images or quoted text is considered fair use, usually to review whatever product or event that is under discussion. If you object to use of any material, please get in touch and it will be cheerfully removed.

A JSB Creations product

Copyright© 2016 by Steve Bryant