R. Shane, Online-Visions, The Online Journal of the Art of Magic - August 2006
The Complete Review
I'm going to cut right to the chase here: if you're not following the advice, the systematic approach, to learning your magic as Gerald Edmundson outlines in his incredible "The Ostrich Factor", you're doing it wrong and you're just going to have to start over on down the line.
That's not hype; that's cold hard fact. In "The Ostrich Factor", Edmundson tackles every pitfall of practicing magic and explains in detail how to make your magic better. Need I say that if your magic is better, you're a better performer, and that's a Good Thing? Nah, I didn't think so.
Okay, so that's a hefty order, making your magic better, making you a better magician, and all of that. How does Edmundson do it? Simple enough, Edmundson teaches attention to detail: a systematic, practical guide to paying attention to the little things that separate the good from the great.
Edmundson takes as his goal removal of what he calls "The Ostrich Factor", which is the simply the overlooking of small details which prevents a performance from being as good as it could be. He does this by describing an in-depth method of practicing which utilizes old principles of performance re-tooled in some cases to magical performances. And it works.
Now, nothing Edmundson says here is new -- he admits that. He draws from other performance and dramatic arts freely, putting everything into an easy to read (and easy to learn) framework that never commits the sin of burying the reader with too much information at once. However, he takes these principles and makes them both understandable and palatable, which in itself is a work of magic. By the time you're done, you'll have been educated in things you've likely thought little of before -- blocking, timing, pacing, storyboarding, and the like -- and more importantly you'll have been taught how to effectively use them to your benefit and the benefit of your magic.
That ain't small potatoes and I still can't get over how well Edmundson pulls it all together.
Okay, so now come the warnings. This isn't a book of magic tricks. If you're looking for tricks, look some place else. And you should know this is very much a book deep into performance artistry and that means work, work above and beyond learning the latest packet trick or the hottest sleight. Be prepared to invest some time and effort in Edmundson's system (and be prepared for the pay-offs as well).
Finally, some may get the impression this is a book for performers, for workers, what with all the detail and work involved. I can't see it. These are the kind of techniques that anyone doing magic for friends, clients, or their pet goldfish need to be aware of and use, if for no other reason and to improve magic personally and as an art form.
"The secret to doing our best with our performances is experience PLUS creative, consistent, intelligent practice. Our best should be what we strive for—for the art, for our audiences and for ourselves." So says Edmundson.
Amen, so says I.