Published on November 7th, 2005 | by Greg0
Magic, the mind, and Hawaii. An instructional manual, a non-fiction set of essays, a graphic novel. Three books: Magic Tricks for Grown-Ups (to be published in the US in early 2007, available in the UK currently), A Mind Apart, and Night Fisher. Honestly, it’s tough to find a common thread there, but we admit to trying hard anyway.
Our latest book review roundup features a guide to magic designed to make friends, get dates, and impress co-workers: the sort of stuff you wish you could do, or at least, wish you could imagine yourself doing. The author, Jon Tremaine, included more than a few simple and effective tricks- many which our staff amateur magician hadn’t seen. Magic Trick for Grown-Ups is a fun introduction to magic, nicely illustrated, and well-suited to a, well, suited audience.
We won’t spoil any secrets here, but we will say this: even doing them badly won a few smiles, a much better response than the bruises from the usual pick-up lines. Many of them take practice, no doubt, but none require unusual skill, and almost all of them can be performed with materials in your desk (if you’re the type that keeps a deck of cards in your desk along with the pens, coins, and paperclips).
For those non-Houdinis, A Mind Apart: Travels in a Neurodiverse World will nonetheless burst a few illusions you may have about mental “disabilities” such as bipolar disorder or autism. Susanne Antonetta, throwing in more than a little of her own experience as a manic-depressive, outlines and defends the concept of neurodiversity. Although she makes the point a few times too many, it’s still an interesting idea.
Neurodiversity means people who are hardwired differently from the norm, and the author uses the term in conjunction with her argument that “normality” isn’t always a good thing. She talks briefly about others, artists and inventors, who suffered from similar disorders, and laments that we (as a race, species, nation) may soon be able to rid ourselves of them. She presents both sides of the issue, but unfortunately her own viewpoints sharply shade what could be a fascinating discussion.
On a different note, R. Kikuo Johnson’s Night Fisher takes a typical concept (the life of a teenager) and turns it into something very new- in this case, a beautiful, stark graphic novel set in Hawaii. It’s a fairly simple story of friends, drugs, an overworked father, getting mixed up with petty crime. But it’s not as dramatic as it sounds, there’s not much action. Instead it’s almost lyrical, a realistic portrait of youth- it ends too soon and you don’t really understand it completely but it’s clever and you can’t help but be nostalgic for it. A quick note: one nice feature at Amazon is that you can take a look inside of “Night Fisher” (and other books) and see what you think.