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Devious Standards by Jamy Ian Swiss - Book

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Don't Settle for the Average! A New Book of Challenging Thoughts about Our Magic...

Jamy Ian Swiss has long been recognized as a force to be dealt with in the world of magic. Intelligent, well-informed, thoughtful, volatile, inspiring, infuriating, articulate, skilled - these are a few of the words used to describe Swiss and his writing. When his first collection of essays on magic, Shattering Illusions, appeared, it received high praise from magicians and trade reviewers alike. This attention broke into public notice with an unprecedented and laudatory review in the Los Angeles Times. Swiss's opinions and evaluations come with the imprimatur of a successful full-time performer who is also a devoted student of the craft and history of conjuring. Among his many credits are appearances on The Today Show, CBS's 48 Hours, PBS's Nova and repeat appearances on The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson. His clients include Fortune 500 companies and the Smithsonian Institution. He has consulted for such talents as Penn & Teller and Marco Tempest, and has been extensively profiled in the New Yorker. His writings will frustrate those who believe magic theory spills from an ivory tower. Swiss writes from a position of long experience as a performer, and as one who is intimate with many of today's greatest professional magicians.

In Devious Standards, Mr. Swiss has gathered together some of his most recent, insightful, challenging and poignant explorations into the performance of magic and its practitioners. These essays include some of his most trenchant thinking about what constitutes a great magic performance and what hinders it. They include "The Method Is Not the Trick", "Discovering Importance", "Empathy", "A Dissertation on the Double Lift", "The JS Rules of Magic" and "The Last Layman".

Also included are recollective studies - part homage, part analysis - of four of magic's past masters: Martin Nash, Derek Dingle, Bob Read and Billy McComb.

Devious Standards is a book written for those who aspire to better magic, and for those who love the best in magic. It maps the pathway from craft to art, for those with the courage to take it.

230 pages in bibliophilic hardcover.

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Pro Privacy ON (login to see reviewer names) on April 28th, 2019
Long-winded at times, and I didn't get very much information from this book. Plus the author seems a little bit self-righteous in some of the interactions he describes with other magicians. Would not recommend.
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Pro Privacy ON (login to see reviewer names) on September 20th, 2019
If you are new to books like "Maximum Entertainment" or the writings of Tamariz or Darryl then this book will catch you up on certain schools of thought but not give you the fine details.

If you have read the the book or authors above then you will get some opinions with what you likley know already.

Either way pricey for what you get.

Some of the writing was not fleshed out or seemed unreal. For instance some of his examples of discussions with other magicians who seem to be more caricature than real by lacking even basic functioning empathy. He uses this magician as a McGuffin making a point others already have made....apparently adding his agreement.

To paraphrase the book Swiss basically writes "I agree with this summarized citation I could have just given you but decided to write a story illustrating the idea first." The source material for the book is decent and sometimes unavailable to many people due to price or rarity. But the ideas they discuss...plenty of other sources discuss the ideas in more detail than Swiss goes into and occasionally cheaper than this book.


The book isn't all bad. Aside from some nuggets of wisdom, implicitly stated at times, there is stories of Swiss's positive interactions with other magicians.

However a few schools of thought summarized with some scattered opinions, a few stories from the road....that makes this book a tough sell for the price.
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