Written by Val Andrews
Available from Goodliffe Publications,
C. Goodliffe Neale, Arden Forest Industrial
Estate, Alcester, Warwicks. Price
In the U.S.A. from Magico Magazine, New York.
Bobby Bernard is one of magic's best known "characters". He is also a skilled technician, an avid collector, a great authority on magical history and has considerable experience as a teacher and producer of several top class magic acts. In addition to all of this, he finds time to be an actor and student of things theatrical. He is also, privately, a very good mimic. It is high time that a book was written about his work.
This particular book is hard bound with gold leaf lettering on the spine and front cover. There are 116 pages of text, which cover some 37 items.
After the usual foreword, Val has interjected a little section on the differences between British English and American English. This is followed by a brief biography of Bobby, which has been carefully written, so as to avoid saying anything that might give a clue about his age!!!
The first magic section deals with coins. Most of the items described are quickies; a number of quick effects and moves, which have been developed over a period of years. In their creator's hands, they look like real magic. Most are simple in concept but, like so many things, which are, they require absolutely faultless execution, if they are to mean anything. Given that faultless execution, they become miracles. Bobby's forte is his coin work, so it is not surprising that this section is the longest, in the book.
The next section, "On Being Fawkes", was no doubt included for the sake of completeness. Whether it has a place in what is essentially a close-up book, is debatable. It is given just under two pages, so the close-uppers will not feel that valuable space has been wasted. Do not think, from this, that I am slating the Fawkes concept, or Bobby's rendition. I just feel that, if the subject is to be treated at all, then it deserves a fuller discussion than is given here. It should really be a separate book, explaining how the act was conceived, researched and finally put together.
Section three is the card section. Again, the accent is on moves and quickies, rather than on routining and subtlety. Of interest to me was A1 Koran's Top-Change. This is very similar to one of Le Paul's, but it is interesting to see Koran's observations on anything. There is also a very good false cut, a deceptive handing of a crimp and several other titbits.
The final section covers Bobby Bernard's thoughts on various aspects of magic. Some of these are rather brief. I would have liked him to expand, in far greater depth on the subjects of misdirection, the actor in magic etc.
I enjoyed this book both as a "read" and with the intention of making use of some of the material. It is not a book of devastatingly original magic, full of deep subtleties, elegantly constructed routines and novel plots. It is however, packed with little hints, tips and bits of know-how, discovered over a lifetime in magic. As such, it is highly recommended to all serious students.
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