This being a magic book, it's only appropriate to begin with a trick question:
What's a sleight?
Careful; I told you it was a trick question.
Forgetting dictionary definitions for the moment, as magicians we can rattle off sleights right and left (the more-practiced of us can also perform every sleight they can rattle off; I'm on the fence as to whether this is a good thing or not). The French Drop, the Zarrow Shuffle, palming, passing, liftings in doubles and triples…
Those are sleights, dammit.
But what about other stuff? Stuff that is just one widdle baby step above selfworking and one giant leap under a second deal?
Sleight or not?
Don't worry; that was a rhetorical question.
Is turning over a packet of cards without being noticed a sleight? What about holding an extra loop in a length of string without a spectator being aware? Miscalling cards? Being one-ahead? Or one-behind?
Not self-working in the strictest sense and not sleights either. Not sleights according to the way we usually think of them, but by definition they are absolutely sleights.
A sleight, according to Merriam-Webster, is "deceitful craftiness". While they might not be considered sleights to the Elmsley Counting world, they are most definitely sleights with which miracles can be achieved quite easily, usually with nothing more than a bit of timing, a touch of misdirection, and out-and-out chicanery.
"Deceitful craftiness" indeed.
So Tractare is a look at those things which ain't self-working, but don't require hours of hours just to get that side-straddle-inverted-Faro-vertical-palm just so, either. In short they are the seldom-known, little-explored methods that can knock an audience right upside the head with the astonishment bat.
That makes such things – whether they are considered sleights or not – something to treasure. Also something to know about, explore, and, yep, play with every now and again.
Tractare is nothing if not a collection of – well, let's call them "handlings" and avoid the whole "is sleight/is not sleight/is/is not" discussion for somebody else – with which to play. Play and imagine and create and astonish. In Tractare, you'll find the handlings I've used for my own enjoyment and my audiences' astonishment.
Gee, something to enjoy doing and something audiences like seeing.
Magic, sleight or not, don't get no better than that.