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Talk about Tricks - The Complete File -Joshua Jay

The Hype:
For the first time ever, Joshua Jay’s beloved “Talk About Tricks” column from MAGIC Magazine has been compiled into a gorgeous, comprehensive two-book collectors’ set.

“Talk About Tricks” was a groundbreaking column that captivated magicians around the world for more than a decade. Every month, magicians would run to their mailbox to learn the latest and greatest effects from some of the world’s best magicians in the world like David Williamson, Lance Burton, Paul Harris, Jay Sankey, Pit Hartling, Darwin Ortiz, Jeff McBride, and others.

This column was also the launching pad for some of your favorite magicians like Daniel Garcia, Calen Morelli, Harapan Ong, Paul Vigil, and Asi Wind. As Danny Garcia put it, “Talk About Tricks” was “THE spot to have magic published” during its run. Which is why these up-and-coming stars could be found featured alongside magic legends like Martin Gardner, Brother John Hamman, and Larry Jennings.

Close-up magic has experienced many different revolutions over the years, and many of them can trace roots back to this column. Like the visual magic renaissance spearheaded by Calen Morelli, who first shared his magic in “Talk About Tricks” and had this to say about the column: “Joshua Jay made ‘Talk About Tricks’ a place for new talent and cutting-edge ideas. Josh has dedicated his life to help advance magic and this set is filled with some great ideas."

This complete collection of two absolutely stunning hardcover books is being offered in collaboration with MAGIC Magazine. Within the pages of these volumes, you’ll find every single trick from the column accompanied by crystal-clear photos printed on exceptional quality, low-gloss paper. The books themselves are wrapped in a translucent dust jacket that changes the color of the cover when removed. They come packaged in a bespoke, clothbound slipcase that you’ll display proudly on your bookshelf.

Talk About Tricks: The Complete File is a definitive collection of close-up magic that offers something for truly every magician. While there are, of course, card magic tricks and coin tricks, you’ll also find innovative magic tricks with everything from pens to pets, Christmas trees, and pretty much any other object you could find in your house.

Magicians of all skill levels can enjoy these books too because of the trailblazing format “Talk About Tricks” introduced. Prior to the start of this column, magicians would often waste time reading through a trick only to find out halfway through that it exceeds their skill level. The “Talk About Tricks” column instituted a visual guide that allows you, at a glance, to see how easy or difficult a magic trick is.

The scope of these books can be a bit overwhelming at first. They will definitely keep you busy for a very long time. Yet, we also would never expect any magician to learn and practice nearly 870 different magic tricks. The true value of Talk about Tricks: The Complete File goes beyond just new magic tricks as Joshua Jay very literally “talked about tricks” with the creators, diving into their creative process to understand the decisions that went into developing each effect. As the incomparable Rune Klan put it: “‘Talk About Tricks’ is a mountain of inspiration. It was my favorite trick column.”

There is also a special section called “Expertalk” where expert magicians share their insights or tweaks to existing moves or tricks. This is a true goldmine featuring discussions like David Williamson diving into the top change, Gary Plants exploring the bottom deal and Ken Krenzel tipping his work on the mechanical reverse. It’s like getting an expert lesson on every major sleight of hand move in magic.

Joshua Jay dedicated a substantial part of his life into crafting this column. It is a treasure trove of information that is worthy of study from any serious student of magic. Asi Wind, who first published “Time is Money” in the column, calls this two-book set an “Astounding collection of magic. A set you’ll be studying for years.”

My Take:
I know it is only July but Santa Claus came to my door today. He was disguised in a brown UPS uniform and was driving a brown truck instead of a sleigh but considering what was in his hands, it can't have been anyone except Santa. (Maybe I should have offered him some cookies and milk.)

This is one huge publication. I almost needed a 2-wheeler to get it into the house. It weighs in at an even 15 pounds and is over 4 1/2 inches thick! The two books come in a very attractive and sturdy slipcase and will look most impressive on your shelf.

Vanishing Inc. has gotten a reputation for publishing some of the most beautiful tomes on the market and I believe they have eclipsed themselves this time. When a book has a dust cover, I usually remove it while I read to keep it nice. Not necessary here. The dust covers are plastic so not only will they stay nice, they will protect each book if something is spilled. I would like to see more companies take this approach.

Previous generations have had Professor Hoffmann, Tarbell, The Jinx, The Phoenix and Harry Lorayne's Apocalypse. Talk About Tricks is definitely the modern equivalent of any of these. Each of Josh's columns are reproduced exactly as originally published in Magic Magazine. In starting my reading, I have run into several typos which I assume were also in the original printing.

The books are mainly of original routines and moves that were given to Josh by the contributors. It is really not that easy to talk someone out of something great to be published with no remuneration. I know. I have a newsletter that I am always trying to solicit material for. I have gotten some stuff and some really good stuff but nowhere near what this young man has accomplished. Apparently he must be more likable than I am. The amount of contributions and the quality of them is just breathtaking.

When I get a book for review, it has been a matter or pride for me to read it cover to cover before reviewing it. I feel that it is only fair to the writer and to the publishing firm. Unfortunately, I can't promise the same this time. The books comprise 1340 pages and would take up the next year getting the review together. So, I will have to pick and choose some. The tricks range in difficulty from easy-peasy to "Oh my God! I will never be able to do this one!"

I think probably the best way to do this is to first look at his first published column and then the last to see if it has changed or if it was already great from day 1. (I assume right now that that is the case.)

The first book opens with a table of contents listing every item along with the contributor. Each one is also shown with a difficulty level from one to five stars. This allows you not only to look for effects within your comfort level but also to look for your favorite artist. As mine is John Bannon, a quick look at the list revealed that there are a couple of items I can look forward to seeing. Harapan Ong, the writer of the marvelous "Principia" (also from Vanishing Inc.) makes a few appearances, too. If there is someone you particularly are fond of, check out the chapter list. He might have a column listed. Some of the ones who have been honored with a solo chapter are Rune Klan, David Parr, Joel Givens, Dave Forrest, Daniel Garcia, Jeff Prace, Doug Conn, Paul Vigil, Andi Gladwin, Joshua Jay (of course) and quite a few others. Simon Aronson has a couple including my favorite column ever (one of the few issues I have actually hung onto over the years), August 2003, Random Sample Shuffle-bored, which besides being extremely easy to do, has a devastating effect on your audience. If you have ever seen Little Bunny's Card Trick (based on the same routine), you know this to be true.

Now to take a look way back at the first column. For just coming out of the gate, Josh has assembled a very impressive list of folks who want to make his first column memorable.

Amnesia Switch by Paul Harris gives Paul's take on the color changing deck which he describes as the "no switch deck switch"

Next up is Lance Burton's Monte Carlo Coin Move where he gives an ending to a vanish by Franklin Chapman in his 1938 book, "Chap's Scrapbook". In 2001. Lance put on a TV special showcase of young magicians with two being teenagers Andrew Gladwin and Joshua Jay. Thanks to Youtube, you can still see this today. Jay Mattioli also puts in an appearance.

Next up we have a neat mentalism item from either Max Maven or Phil Goldstein. He says that he asked Max for a trick but Phil sent one instead. I am sure the quality is quite similar between the two.

Tally-Ho Extended is from one of Josh's idols, Harry Lorayne. It seems that Harry is not real generous in passing out unpublished material but this time he made an exception. However, it also made an appearance in a book he self published not long after. This is a spelling trick based on the printing of the box Tally-Ho cards come in so a Tally-Ho deck is necessary. The trick is also rated for one star so anyone should be able to do it.

Jay Sankey's "Sweet Bread" is a transposition between a borrowed bill and a sugar packet that can pretty well be performed impromptu at any restaurant. The column finishes up with an Expert Talk on the Top Change from that crazy guy, David Williamson, who actually appears quite sane in this column and gives you same great tips on this move.

A most impressive first outing.

On now to his swan song column. In September 2013, we say goodbye to Talk About Tricks, a true loss to the magic community. His last column featured him and three of his closest friends.

Rune Klan has always been a bit quirky but he may have outdone himself on this one. He tears up a newspaper, unfolds what is left and the torn out holes form a picture of Darth Vader. And this is only one star.

Les Carter Overlap - Andi Gladwin brings us a gaff card routine bringing back the Overlap gaff. In the original magazine, a card was included but is not with the collection. Still some of you most likely have it around from the first time it was included or you have Josh's 2005 book, Overlap.

Joel Givens follows up with an impressive demonstration of card cheating. Rated at three diamonds, I think it is worth the time to master this one.

And we finish with one of Josh's signature routine, Hitchcock. If you have seen Josh perform or lecture over the last few years, you will most likely have seen him perform Hitchcock. This is one impressive card routine. A card (not shown) is torn into four pieces. Four people each select a card and insert it into the deck. The four pieces (from a single card) are shown to match the four selections. The deck is spread to show that each selection has turned face up. When they are removed from the deck, each is shown to have a corner torn off and each quarter on the table matches the selected cards. If you have seen this performed, you know what an absolute killer it is. It actually surprises me that Josh has tipped it here, so I guess you can consider it a gift to the purchasers of this set.

An Extras section rounds out the tricks. in 2001, Stan Allen asked Josh to write a column called "Inside Out". Turns out that this was an audition for writing Talk About Tricks which, of course, he passed. It featured four of the routines Josh was then currently using. One last talk (about tricks) finishes the content with "Think as I Think", a memorized deck routine.

At the end is an index which really does everything I think an index should accomplish. It lists all the contributions first by Creator, then by Category making it a snap to locate anything you might want to look up. All the "Expert Talks" are listed next and finally the Top Ten Picks of each year. I'd like to list just a few of the tricks that I have tried so far.

First is "Stay Lucky" by Roy Walton, Page 42. A few years ago, we were in Scotland on vacation and we were wandering down the street in Glasgow. Seeing a sign that said magic shop, of course, I had to go in. Coincidentally the owner was Roy Walton and he graciously came out from the back room and we had a most pleasant conversation. This trick is rated 1 diamond and it really is fun. You take a pile of cards, mix them up and divide them into two piles with your spectator making all the decisions. You deal down two hands and he takes his choice of either. Turning his cards face up, you take your pile and spell the value and the color of each turned card. When this is done, you turn yours over and it found that not only do all the cards match, they are in the exact order of his cards.

If you are like me, when you go to conventions, you come home with a lot more friends. It was great to see some contributions from some of those people in Talk about Tricks.

Been friends with Nathan Kranzo forever. He has created some really inventive and quirky tricks. In one, you have a suntan with an untanned spot on your wrist where your watch was. He takes that spot and moves it up his arm. His Box Monster is a nice take on the Haunted Card plot. Sorry but neither of these is in the set. However, in this book, he removes the cellophane from a box of cards, wads it up, vanishes it and it's back on the box. Easy to do and so clever. (Rewrapped. Page 137. Also on the same page is a very cute bit from Phil Goldstein, Shipshape). There are also several more by Nathan.

Another person I have seen many times over the years is Paul Richards. He was the founder of Elmwood Magic and is a great demonstrator. If you go to a good convention, you just might meet him. Here he does a routine (The Final Stretch, Page 146) where a selected card is wrapped in a bill and then stretched.

I have always enjoyed each and every one of Josh's columns that I have read. I didn't manage to get every issue and over the years, most have been misplaced (Except for the Aronson Shuffle-bored issue). And if I happened to want to find a particular thing that I once saw, I had no idea where to look. This set does away with all that.

This review barely scratches the surface of the material included. The columns between the first and last are all loaded with great and practical routines and sleights. Often, when I review a book, I can occasionally scan the material. I tried that here and it didn't work. Once you get into reading a column, you want to make sure you have seen and digested every word. It is hard to put it down. I am a voracious reader and have been enjoying a series of novels by Greg Iles. Each of his books seem to be around 800 pages but I am going to have to just leave the unread ones in a stack for the time being. Talk About Tricks is going to occupy the lion's share of my reading time for a long while.

In fact, whether you choose to read the book in a linear order or just open to any page and start, once you read one item, it is next to impossible to stop. You see and hear nothing else. the world goes away. Now if, like me, you are married, these books could easily become the cause for a divorce. Not saying that it will, just a warning.

This is probably the finest book published by Vanishing so far. The sheer beauty of the construction and printing is wonderful. It is not a cheap book but after this, you might never need to buy another book on magic. The only downside I can see if the price. This book is definitely worth every penny and will be a fine edition to your library. However, not everyone will be able to afford one. Maybe someday they will break down and put out a pdf of it. Would be nice but the current edition does keep it out of the hands of the Youtube kiddies. This is a book set for serious workers and I cannot recommend this too highly.

I see only one negative in this set. A number of the effects have pages that in the original magazine you could cut out and use (Shuffle-Bored and Yellow Zebra in particular). Obviously, you won't be cutting apart an expensive set of books. I emailed Josh to see what the possibility of his releasing a pdf of the pages you might need to do these tricks. He says that I am not the first to ask and it was being considered.

And there is hidden value that is not mentioned in the ads. 15 pounds worth of books makes it most suitable to use for a workout. So not only can you impress everyone with your magical skills, you can whip yourself into shape! Plus, Josh took a new photo of himself for each column so you have the opportunity to see seeing him age from a teenager to a full blown adult right before your eyes!
Frank Yuen
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I created my own pdf for Random Shuffle-Bored right after the issue came out. Simon contacted me and I sent it to him. His website is still up and you can download the pdf here:
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Very nice
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