Pit Hartling is internationally known for his innovations in card magic. He is a FISM award winner and member of the hilarious Flicking Fingers. In this book are "Seven performance pieces with an ordinary deck" including Finger Flicker, a trick recently seen performed by David Blaine on his TV special, Dive of Death.
Imagine if you could....
- sense the colors of playing cards through a solid table.
- stack four Poker hands in less than ten seconds.
- kick any named number of cards off a tabled deck.
- put chaos to order.
- magically move cards to any positions in the pack at will.
- transpose a card from between a spectator's hands to under his watch.
- instantly memorize the order of a shuffled deck.
This book will not enable you to any of those things. Most of them are, after all, impossible. Fortunately, however, we can make our spectators experience these impossibilities anyway. We do that by creating fictions, In this case Card Fictions.
It may sound obvious, but it is this simple realization that makes magic as a performing art possible in the first place: Evoking the feeling of impossibility does not require actually doing the impossible. However, it will always require a team-effort. A fiction is created in somebody's mind. Equipped with those marvels called human perception and the human mind our spectators play a necessary and active part in the process. All that we performers do is to provide adequate input. Then we lean back and relax as the spectators themselves spontaneously and effortlessly complete the job and create fascinating, impossible - magical - fictions.
Granted the book is no where near easy, I would say some tricks verge on advanced. Use of riffle stacking, bottom dealing and perfect faros does require confidence, nerve and skill. But the lessons to be learnt are brilliant!
Also in the book Pit includes an interesting foreword and introduction as well as his views on method and style (or as he calls it "The Performing Mode"). As well as his views on inducing challenges. Those along with his last words and bibliography provide a great read and I would highly advise this book.
It's subtitled "Seven Performance Pieces With An Ordinary Deck", and yes it does indeed contain seven effects that don't use gimmicked cards.
The effects include 'Finger Flicker', in which the magician demonstrates that he can flick a spectator-specified number of cards off the top of a tabled deck, even while blindfolded/looking away. An enthusiastic magic shop assistant sold me the book mostly by raving about this trick and getting me to think 'hmm, that sounds cool'.
Other effects include a memorising-a-deck trick, sneaking a card under a spectator's watch while doing something a bit like that Paul Harris 'fastest draw' trick, sensing the colour of cards under the table, a poker deal, and 'Triple Countdown' in which three cards selected by different spectators all prove to be at numbers in the deck specified by them.
I'm going to come straight out and say that I was fairly disappointed in the book, overall. I enjoyed Hartling's writing style very much and felt he had some really good things to say in terms of performance and so on; the effects are all very well explained and there are also a couple of related essays, something I always enjoy.
However, I just didn't feel that the effects were quite as powerful as I anticipated, especially with the level of sleight and management involved in some cases.
To go into a little more detail, the two effects that interested me most were 'Triple Countdown' and 'Finger Flicker'. I am pretty much obsessed with 'any card at any number' so 'Triple Countdown' appealed greatly. It is not a bad trick at all, and it's also a neat use of what I believe mentalists call 'dual reality' . But (from my point of view) it's not really an 'acaan' effect and (from a general point of view) it is only suitable for certain performing conditions.
Meanwhile, 'Finger Flicker' is also pretty good, but once I'd learned it I suddenly realised that in my eyes it really isn't very magical. For performers who like to showcase their (real or) apparent skill with a pack of cards it is probably well worth a look. But if you are of the outlook that you don't want to look TOO dextrous with a deck then this is a no-no.
In summary: Beautifully written, clever and well-presented. Not for beginners. The effects, to THIS reader, not quite living up to their billing.