Author: Alex Stone
Summary: The author of this memoir sometimes rubbed me the wrong way, but I enjoyed hearing about an interesting subculture with fun tangents on science and history.
This story of author Alex Stone’s attempt to become a master magician reminded me of a stunt memoir, like The Happiness Project, or of Mary Roach’s books (although less humorous). Like these books, the author meets with fascinating people and tries off-beat approaches to learning more about his topic. He also couples descriptions of his experience with fascinating tidbits of relevant science and history.
This book ticked a lot of boxes for me. I love learning about interesting careers and subcultures and the world of the professional magician is certainly both. I also have always enjoyed stunt memoirs, hearing about someone having a lot of unusual experiences as they work to accomplish a goal. And I can’t say no to a book full of fun science and history facts, especially when a lot relate to the way the human mind works. I really liked all of those aspects of this book.
I had mixed feelings about the author that did influence how I experienced the book. Some of his mannerisms, particularly the use of casual phrases that felt out of place, bothered me enough to interrupt the flow of the book. I also have to admit that I didn’t like him very much at the beginning. It seemed he’d not devoted the effort to being good at anything in his life. At the beginning, even his attempts to do magic were lazy at best. The positive side of that is that he had a really nice character arc throughout the story, experiencing some personal growth as he finally did put a lot of effort into one thing. This was a small part of the reading experience though and the author’s engaging writing about topics that appeal to me generally made this a fun read.
PS, if you were wondering about the post title – I’ve been naming review posts after the type of book they are for awhile and lately I’ve been reading so much nonfiction that just ‘Nonfiction Review’ didn’t feel descriptive enough. I’ve also not written a lot recently about my long-term project to read one book per Dewey Decimal number, but I’ve been reminded that I used to name my reviews after their Dewey Decimal number by Arya at Arya’s Fangirl Lexicon, who has just started trying to read one book per Dewey Decimal number herself.
PPS, if you’re looking to read more about magic, you must check out Katherine’s blog The Writerly Reader. She writes great reviews of books on the topic and as soon as I saw this book on my shelves at the library, I knew to check if she’d reviewed it before picking it up!