Fooling Houdini - Stone, Alex
Summary: "When Alex Stone was five years old, his father bought him a magic kit, sparking a lifelong love. Years later, living in New York City, he discovered a vibrant underground magic scene populated by a fascinating cast of characters: from his gruff mentor, who holds court in the back of a rundown pizza shop, to one of the world's greatest card cheats, who happens to be blind. From New York City's century-old magic societies to cutting-edge psychology labs, Fooling Houdini recounts Stone's quest to join the ranks of master magicians. But his journey is more than a tale of tricks, gigs, and geeks. In trying to understand how expert magicians manipulate our minds to create their illusions, Stone investigates some of the lesser-known corners of psychology, neuroscience, physics, history, and even crime."--From publisher description.
This book is much more than it appears to be. It's a memoir about the author's efforts to become a world-class magician; it's a lively introduction to the subculture of magic (the kind practiced by stage magicians, that is, not occultists); it's an exploration of the links between magic and the sciences (which are not as tenuous as you might think); and it's a portrait of some quite interesting characters, including the narrator, Stone, who pursued a PhD in physics at the same time he was studying magic, and Wes James, a veteran sleight-of-hand master who was Yoda to Stone's Luke Skywalker (and who also holds a PhD, in computer science). The author uses magic, which relies on making the audience think they're seeing one thing while something entirely different is going on, as a jumping-off point to probe the ways in which we perceive the ordinary world and how we often, and mostly subconsciously, allow our perceptions to be colored by our expectations. A very entertaining book for budding magicians, students of psychology and neuroscience, and anyone who lands at various points in between. Copyright 2012 Booklist Reviews.