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his is a truly impromptu handling for using a book as a peek device. Using a book offers us a set of side-benefits not offered by any cS

other method I know of. As you will see ^

Someone is invited to jot down asecret thought. A name, a place, a word, a number—whatever on the back of a business card. The card is kept writing-side down and slipped by the subject into the middle of a borrowed book. She then gets to hold the book between her hands, and the information is revealed.

If I can, I borrow a business card, a paperback book, and a ball-point pen.

I hand the business card and pen to my subject. Then, as an afterthought, I hand her the book to use "as a table" and have her jot down her secret thought.

While she is writing, I exercise my pencil-reading skills. If I get the word by this method, it is unbeatable. Walk far away, touch nothing, and reveal the secret thought.

But suppose I can t pencil read what's been written? I then ask for the return of the book. Now, as I warn my subject to keep her card writing-side down, I check to see if a readable impression has been left on the cover of the book. I angle it in the light to see if an impression is there or not. (This is why I borrow a ball-point pen, if I can. Ballpoints offer the best chance of being pressed into the shiny cover of a paperback book.) If I have a legible impression, I walk away and ask that the card be folded and held in a tight fist. I then reveal the secret thought.

But suppose I can only borrow a felt-tip pen? No pencil reading. No impression. That's where "Peek-a-Book" comes to the rescue.

Holding the book in my left hand, I slowly riffle through the pages. Telling my subject to

Tangled Web keep her writing hidden, I ask her to slip the card anywhere into the book. I turn my head away as she does this. I then make sure the card has been pushed all the way in before I face forward again.

Turning back to my subject, I comment on the fact that the card is safely hidden within the book, as I casually show both sides of it. I do this as follows: Using my palm-down right hand, I take the book at one end, with the binding of the book turned toward me (figure 1).

I flash both sides of the book a couple of times, maybe mentioning that holding it up to the light wouldn't help me. I end this short display by bringing my right hand to rest palm up in front of me, still holding the book by one end. In this position, the writing side of the card is facing upward within the book, the binding of the book is turned toward the audience, and my right hand hides the entire right end of the book from everyone (figure 2).

A moment of misdirection is now needed. I may have the cap replaced on the pen. Or have the pen handed to a gentleman off to the left. Or ask the subject, "Are you right or left handed?" Til do whatever seems natural within the circumstances of this performance, just to take everyone's mind off the card and book for a split second. During that split second, my left hand grasps the other end of the book from above, and my left thumb

Tangled Web riffles up to the card. (It feels and works just like a short card.)

The instant I hit the spot with my thumb, my left hand bends open the book and I peek down at I he writing {figure 3).

Notice that the opening is covered on both sides by the hands. Done properly, it appears as if the entire book is simply flexed a little. I look up as soon as I see what's written, and I don't look at the book again.

In a continuing action, I let the book close and I flip it over into my left hand. Again, this is done casually. No focus or attention should be on any part of this. As soon as the book settles into the left hand, I flex the entire book slightly downward

along its length, between my hands {figure 4). This is a canceling action; it lends uniformity to the preceding action.

The entire sequence takes less than a second and looks very nonchalant. It appears that the book is flexed, turned over, and flexed again. If done well, most people won t even notice the flexing. I try not to think about my hands' actions.

I now give the book to my subject and have her hold it between her palms—after which I reveal her secret thought.

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