by David Acer
The Camirand Academy of Magic, 1999
Natural Selections, volume II is a great little book. Little? No, it’s not ‘little’; it weighs in at just under 200 pages. Nor is there little in it, with thirty-odd tricks, several essays, and more. But it’s as easy and satisfying to read as a small book that leaves you with the feeling that you’ve been on an adventure and makes you crave more. And that’s no small feat.
Slugging through 200 pages of magic instructions is usually a bit of a chore, no matter how good the material. But David’s writing is amazingly clear; coupled with the 300-odd photographs, it makes learning the tricks a breeze. As if that weren’t enough, David puts his famous comedic timing to good use here, too, by peppering the text with a lot of humourous bits, lightening the load even more. This book is not only informative, but also fun to read; a rarity.
The magic, of course, is superb. David is not only a professional comedian, he’s also a professional magician, and the material reflects that. All the tricks are geared towards entertaining the audience, without, however, lapsing into facile non-tricks that evoke a laugh at the expense of the magic. Everything is practical and useable.
The first item, ‘Time Flies’, is so stunning, I want to describe the effect. David borrows a quarter, displays it on his left palm, then puts it into his pocket. Next he removes his watch and waves it over his empty left fist. He opens the fist; the coin is back… and the watch has disappeared — it’s back on his left wrist!!! Bonus: it’s not difficult to do!
In ‘Madcap’, David tosses a bottle cap in the air and pokes his finger at — and right through — the cap. The illusion is so convincing, it looks just as good the fifth time as it did the first time (David demonstrated it at his recent lecture here).
There are several nifty card tricks, including ‘Symmetry’, inspired by Paul Harris’ Twilight’; ‘All but One’, with Jay Sankey, in which the whole deck — minus the selection — penetrates the card case; the zany ‘This Side Up’, in which the deck apparently turns over in its case; and ‘The Card Also Rises’, an impromptu rising card from cardcase.
There are also several techniques and subtleties for cards, coins, and the endless chain. One of them is ‘Flipwich’, a novel technique — with several applications — that merits its own chapter.
In ‘Heavy Credit’, a credit card is removed from the wallet only to instantly reappear there. There’s ‘The Pagemaster’, another Acer and Sankey creation, which is a lovely, simple book test based on an old principle rarely used today.
In addition, there’s a chapter of essays relating mostly to restaurant magic, and another chapter on additions to David’s marketed tricks. My only disappointment with the book is that this chapter doesn’t describe what these marketed tricks are. A short description of each effect would be enlightening.
Each of the six chapters ends with ‘A day in the life’, in which David describes some of the (mis)adventures he has endured, either while performing or when in the company of magicians. To me, these hilarious anecdotes are the true gems of the book. It’s a rare person who will admit to being less than perfect; here, David not only shows us his humanity, but courageously allows us — even encourages us — to laugh at him. And that’s no small feat, either.
Just in case you’re wondering: I highly recommend it.
(Natural Selections, volume II is available from any good dealer.)