The door to magic is closed, but it’s not locked. And now Joshua Jay opens that door to reveal the artistry and obsessiveness, esoteric history and long-whispered-about traditions of a subject shrouded in mystery. “This book is my love letter to magic,” says Jay, “and it answers the questions people ask me every night after the show.” Joshua Jay brings us right into the mind of a magician—how they develop their other-worldly skills, conjure up illusions, and leave the rest of us slack-jawed with delight.

Along the way Jay reveals another kind of secret, one all readers will find meaningful even if they never aspire to perform sleight-of-hand: What does it take to follow your heart and achieve excellence?


In 52 short, compulsively readable essays, Jay describes how he does it, whether it’s through the making of illusions, the psychology behind them or how technology influences the world of magic. He considers the aesthetics of performance, and answers questions like: Can a magic trick be too good? How do you saw a person in half? Is there real magic in the universe? Was Houdini as good as everyone says?

The book takes you into the minds and work of contemporary masters, including David Copperfield, Penn & Teller, and David Blaine. Jay spent considerable time with each one to glean secret insights into how magicians hone their craft.




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