Recently I received a BIG SALE e-mail From the Quality Paperback Book Club. One of the suggested search choices was a box in which you type a subject. Feeling fanciful, I typed in “MAGIC,” just to see what would pop up. The first screen listed fifteen books. This was the first fifteen -- of ONE THOUSAND books they offered to me. No, I didn’t check out EVERY book nor read every description, to see why they were on this “magic” list. But I found out that the word “magic” can mean a wide variety of things:
Strangely, the first book on the first screen was “Meringue,” that fluffy white stuff on pies. I guess there must be magic in making it. At least the second book had “magic” in its title: “Joey Green’s Kitchen Magic.” Those cooking folks create magic in the kitchen all the time.
Then there was “Steel City Magic and Elfhome” (with no description), followed by just “Elfhome,” which did have a description: “In this thrilling sequel to “Tinker and Wolf Who Rules,” the elf children of Pittsburgh are disappearing, the elf-eating oni are invading, and only Princess Tinker can save the city and its melting pot of magical races.”
Looking up “magic” in my American Heritage Collegiate Dictionary (one I’ve had since college), “magic” as we magicians define it (“The exercise of sleight of hand or conjuring for entertainment, the use of premeditated deception or concealed equipment to produce baffling effects”) is only the THIRD definition given. The first is: “The art that purports to control or forecast events, effects, or forces by invoking the supernatural.” The second definition is: “The practice of using charms, spells, or rituals to attempt to produce supernatural effects, or to control events in nature.”
Whenever I spend time in one of my favorite haunts -- used book stores -- and ask where “magic” books are located, more often than not I am taken to the section with witchcraft, sorcery, and wizards. I just don’t ask anymore, and go to the “GAMES” section, where I find our magic books -- if they have any.
Anyway, back to the Internet search on the QPB Club. The first-page list continues with these books -- no kidding: “The Artist” (The Best Picture Academy Award winner), “Spider-Man 3,” and “Porch Lights,” before getting to “Seasons of Witchery” (“Ellen offers magickal ways to celebrate the wheel of the year, sharing history and lore on each sabbat as well as ideas for honoring each season....”).
Then, at number nine, is “The Magician King,” which is “a grand voyage into the glittering heart of magic -- an epic quest for the Harry Potter generation. Grossman proves that he is the modern heir to C.S. Lewis, and on the cutting edge of literary fantasy.” Finally on that page, are six more fantasy books. In other words, NO books on magic as we define it.
Since I was that far, I decided to scan several additional pages just to see what their computer wizard was calling “magic.” Same results -- mostly fantasy. One book was called “Magic Lantern Genie Guides: Nikon D800;” another was entitled, “Ordinary Magic,” (“In a world where everyone possesses magical abilities, powerless 12-year-old Abby, an Ordinary, is sent to a special school to learn how to negotiate a magical world with her unmagical ‘disability’....”).
I kept saying I wasn’t going to click any more screens, but I did go to one more (like Lay’s potato chips, “Bet you can’t eat just one!”). On the fourth page I found, “Scholastic Reader Level 2: Magic Rainbow,” “Magic Lantern,” and “Hard Magic,” and a bunch of other fantasy books.
BUT, I also found two gems: “Lulu’s Magic Wand,” (“While on a family trip to Adventure Planet amusement park, young Lulu accidentally gets a real magic wand as a prize and her wishes magically begin to come true, placing her family and other visitors in terrible danger.”); and “Magic Words: the Tale of a Jewish Boy-interpreter, the World’s Most Estimable Magician, a Murderous Harlot, and America’s Greatest,” -- yes, that’s the entire title. The description says, “Young Jewish immigrant Julius comes of age surrounded by the wild world of 1867 Nebraska...but Julius has reckoned without the arrival of his older cousin, Alexander who, as the Great Hermann, is the most famous young magician in America,,,,” At least these two came closer to OUR magic world.
I stopped clicking pages after four. I have other things to do, like research obituaries for The Broken Wand, and write the cover story for the July issue of The Linking Ring.
To bring this blog to a conclusion, and not keep clicking, I did go back to the opening page of the Big Sale screen, and typed in “MAGICIAN,” just to see if there would be any different results. There weren’t. Just mostly magick and fantasy treatments of the word. Even a hopeful title -- “The Magicians and Mre. Quent” -- led to a description of a man gone mad, who practiced magick. More fantasy.
In the meantime, when I have my next spell of needing to waste an hour or so, I’ll explore what OTHER Internet searches come up with. FOr now, go click on the I.B.M. Annual COnvention page and register right now. You KNOW you want to go! Just wave your magick wand!