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Mysterious Stranger


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The Michael Jordan of magic. The hip-hop Houdini. These are some of Blaine's promotional tags. Even if you didn't join the 15.88 million viewers who watched this escape artist's "Frozen in Time" special, you might like to know that Robert DeNiro has optioned his life story. Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.

He was buried alive for a week in Times Square, encased in ice for three days, also in Times Square, and stood atop an 83-foot pillar in Manhattan's Bryant Park for 36 hours-and received national TV coverage for all these feats. Often touted as the new Houdini, Blaine is a consummate magician as well as endurance artist and an important force in the field for his advocacy of "street magic." In this spirited book, his first, Blaine offers readers a magical extravaganza on paper, a mix of autobiography, history of magic, how-to (do magic), interactive magic tricks and self-help advice. Blaine begins with intimations of stage magic's power, with an account of legendary 19th-century magician Robert-Houdin traveling to Algeria on orders of the French government to quell an uprising by showing that his magic was greater than that of the rebels. He ends with a knuckle-whitening account of his pillar stunt, a "dream manifesto" ("Read. Observe.... Our minds have no limits") and suggested resources including books of general interest (at the top: The Brothers Karamazov). This is a very personal volume, with Blaine's passionate, playful, opinionated, determined personality evident on nearly every page. Magic buffs will find much here that's familiar, like the recaps of magicians past and present, but even serious hobbyists will pick up tips from the tricks and explanations scattered throughout, and the final chapters, devoted to Blaine's endurance challenges, are pure gold. Copious illustrations enliven the already brisk text. Though doubling as major promo for Blaine, this is one of the most thorough and enjoyable introductions to magic in years. Two-color throughout; four-color photo inserts. (Oct. 31) Forecast: Blaine is a consummate self-promoter; with national publicity including an interview on 20/20, he should hit lists with this book. It also contains clues to a treasure worth $100,000 "buried somewhere in America." Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.

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