Review: Expert at the Cod Table (Michael Breggar)

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Review: Expert at the Cod Table (Michael Breggar)

Postby EndersGame » Apr 11th, '20, 09:13



Expert at the Cod Table (Michael Breggar)

Another fine collection of highly entertaining sleight-light magic from the mad-cap Michael Breggar

Life is short. So if I'm going to spend any time fishing in the vast ocean of magic literature, I don't want to be wasting my time with minnows, or dropping my line in seas where the fish are inedible or the good fish are few. Fishing doesn't get much better than with a Michael Breggar magic book, because I know that I'm always going to get some kind of catch, and be thoroughly entertained in the process.

I knew that Michael was onto a winner as soon as I saw the title of his latest book, The Expert at the Cod Table, which is spuriously attributed to S.W. Ordfish. Anyone familiar with the Erdnase classic will immediately get the inside joke, and you can be sure this is just a small taste of the magical catch you'll find inside. After being greeted by a humorous picture of half a dozen or so fish playing poker on the first page, and reading through the laugh-out-loud opening piece "Who was S.W. Ordfish?" (which includes a picture of an original edition of the book found at the bottom of a parakeet cage), I was already thoroughly impressed. Michael's own "Hard of Herring" preface continues the madcap humor, and in the material that follows he ensures that those of us on a quest for entertaining magic come home with a good catch in our fishing bucket.

He never lets up from his zany style, and I can't think of the last time I had that much fun reading a magic book. Take his effect "Too Much Information", for example. This is a card trick with a mentalism touch, and Michael helps us with possible patter by running through the routine with his spectator Seth. You'll get a glimpse of what's in Seth's mind (or perhaps Michael's own?), as he shares information about his mind-reading discoveries: "You did what with a thermometer? I just can't get those images of that French Maid outfit and that donut sandwich out of my mind!" And before you know it, Michael is singing Enya, and divining the selected card at exactly the selected number. The value of this lunacy isn't just that it amuses the reader, but gives great ideas for presenting your tricks well, and making your magic thoroughly entertaining. As always, helping us with fun presentation is one of Michael's strengths.

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Oh, but you want to know about the magic? There's over a hundred pages altogether, with 15 different routines, in what might be Michael's best book yet. It's certainly his longest. As always, he builds on the greats that have come before him, drawing on the genius of magicians like Harry Lorayne, Karl Fulves, and many others (all appropriately credited), for some wonderful plots. This way he can bring us the best of both worlds: strong magic, and entertaining presentation.

Most of the routines are very much sleight-lite - Michael's speciality - so it's easy to perform. It does mean that at times you might find some more dealing and counting than you might like, but overall it's very much within the realm of the intermediate card magician who is looking for magic that doesn't require knuckle-busting moves, and has a command of the fundamentals of card magic, which the focus of this tome. Overall it is well organized and sensibly laid out, with extensive and well-labelled colour photographs throughout the book to ensure that everything is easy to follow.

This book has confirmed that Michael Breggar is the kind of guy I want in my boat when I'm out fishing for entertaining magic. He won't just help me catch something, but will even help me serve it up on a platter, well-plated, well-cooked, and very tasty. His tricks are easy on sleights while being strong on entertaining presentation, and he ensures that magic remains fun both for the magician and the spectator. In fact, I had enormous fun just reading through his book, and you will too - regardless of whether or not you ever attempt any of the card tricks inside. Consider those a free bonus that comes along the comedy.

Where to get it? The Expert at the Cod Table was released in April 2020 and can be purchased as a digital download in PDF format as an exclusive from Kaymar Magic [product page] and BigBlindMedia [product page].

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