Readers of Expert Manipulation of Playing Cards (an outstanding treatise, published a few years ago, on back-palming, fan-production, card-fanning, and other types of "showy" conjuring with cards) will be pleased to learn of the appearance of another book by the same author, and particularly one that bears the promising title Routined Manipulation. Nor are they likely to be disappointed when the book comes into their hands, for Mr. Ganson's latest effort has the same characteristics which made his earlier one so useful to manipulators - excellence of material, thoroughness of treatment, attention to minute detail, clarity of exposition, and a great abundance of first-rate illustrations. Physically, Routined Manipulation is a volume of 118 pages, printed on coated paper, illustrated with 167 photographic reproductions and line drawings, and bound in black fabrikoid with the title gold-stamped on the spine.
We may well begin our description of the book under review by stating that its contents in no way overlap the material the author presented in Expert Manipulation of Playing Cards. It is true that about half of the items in Mr. Ganson's new book are card tricks, and about one-third of the total pages and illustrations are used in explaining these feats. However, of the ten items with cards only three (consisting of some new ideas in card-fanning and card-production) fall into the category of "showy" magic. The other seven include an "invisible riffle pass" and a bottom-deal by Fred Robinson; reading a pack of shuffled cards; Gambler's Luck, a poker-dealing stunt; My Name-Your Name, a card-spelling trick; Thought Prescient, the prediction of a card; Koran's Solo Aces, a novel four-ace trick, with the explanation of a new false-count; and How Right You Are, a fine series of four effects based upon a combination of Svengali and rough-and-smooth principles.
Turning to Mr. Ganson's miscellaneous routines, we note among the shorter items Harold Beaumont's Dice Routine (2 pages); Matchic (2 pages, 3 illustrations); The Smoking Clay Pipes (3 pages, 5 illustrations); and The Egg on Fan, originated by Max Sterling and more recently popularized by Tommy Martin (3 pages). Explained at greater length are Al Koran's fine Torn and Restored Newspaper (5 pages, 9 illustrations); The Walnut Shells and Pea (6 pages, 8 illustrations); Ken Brooke's Cups and Balls (6 pages, 11 illustrations); Magic with Coins, several very neat effects (7 pages, 16 illustrations); The Production of Lighted Cigarettes (13 pages, 28 illustrations); The Chinese Linking Rings (9 pages, 18 illustrations); and The Multiplying Lighted Candles, the production of either four or eight candles at the fingertips (7 pages, 18 illustrations).
A shortcoming of many authors of conjuring books is that they write sketchily and leave too much to the imagination. This may not be so bad for the advanced student, but it is often very hard on the beginner. Mr. Ganson does not fall into this error. He wisely limits the items presented to a number which will enable him to devote to each as much space as is needed for its clear exposition. In the present book he uses on the average more than five pages and almost eight illustrations per trick - a surprisingly large allowance, as may be seen by an examination of some of the more recent publications on magic. Since some of his explanations are handled (and handled quite adequately) with far less than the average, there remains for the more complicated routines (as is noted in the preceding paragraph) a quota of space and illustrations which enables him to do a first-rate teaching job.
We must not neglect to mention the opening chapter, entitled Presentation of Manipulation, which reveals no conjuring secrets but deals with the performer's personality, dress and appearance, care and use of the hands, speech, stage behavior, and make-up; and also with such "outside aids" as stage-setting, lighting, music, and apparatus. Here is sound advice, obviously born of experience and careful observation. Finally, we read with pleasure that this is only Part I of Routined Manipulation, and that Part II (which will present routines with billiard balls, coins, thimbles, cards, rope, knives, eggs, silks, and cigarettes) is, to use a phrase that is quite familiar to readers of conjuring literature, "in active preparation." If it is as good as Part I, it will doubtless find a hearty welcome.