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Undiluted Hocus-Pocus

The New York Times review of Martin Gardner's autobiography, Undiluted Hocus-Pocus, by the magician known as Teller, features incredibly lovely images and excerpts:

... Gardner recollects: "I have a strong memory of sitting on a side seat of a subway car, Charlotte on one side and Jimmy, then about 6 months old, sound asleep with his head on my shoulder. People walking by invariably gave us a smile. I thought, 'Here I am, in one of the world's greatest cities, with a woman I love next to me, a son sleeping in my arms. What more could I desire?' It was the happiest moment of my life."

Such moments bejewel the memoir. Gardner remembers the smile of a pretty girl as she looked out of a store window on the streets of Paris, Tex., as the teenage Gardner walked by, too shy to talk to her. He recounts being on a train when his father "pointed out that if you closed your eyes, you could imagine the train speeding the opposite way, or even moving sideways. When sleeping on a train," his father said, "he liked to induce sleep by sending the train in different directions." (Years later Gardner wrote a book on relativity.) Gardner recalls the scent of his wife when he danced with her on the night they met: "It came from her hair and body, and clung to her clothes. If someone had presented me with a dozen dresses worn by a dozen women including Charlotte, I could have easily picked out her dress by its smell." Gardner writes with such frank pleasure, you find yourself surveying your own life for piquant and vivid memories.

"Piquant and vivid memories" indeed — like some of the moments in Tolstoy's War and Peace and other great writing.

(cf. IrresistibleAttraction (2004-10-04), InfiniteSky (2004-10-15), DebutanteDance (2005-03-22), GlobeOfLife (2005-06-25), ...) - ^z - 2014-02-14