The Bookworm Sez: ‘Real Magic’ is more than a memoir

The Bookworm Sez: ‘Real Magic’ is more than a memoir

Wow.

Just … wow. Did you see that? Wasn’t it awesome? It was a once-in-a-lifetime sight and you almost missed it; now, you’ll never forget it. You just don’t have many moments like that anymore, and in “Here is Real Magic” by Nate Staniforth (c.2018, Bloomsbury, $28.00, 256 pages), that’s a wonder.

All Nate Staniforth ever wanted was to be a magician.

As he remembers, much of his Iowa boyhood was spent at the Ames Public Library, reading books about magic before going home to work on a vanishing coin trick. He’d stand in the bathroom of his family’s home, watching himself in the mirror as he dropped the coin over and over until his mother kicked him out of the bathroom. Until he stopped dropping the coin and finally made it disappear.

All he ever wanted was to be a magician, and so when he graduated from college, he moved to Los Angeles in search of fame and fortune. Just before he ran out of money, he received a call from an agent who offered Staniforth a slot on a college tour.

It was a toe in the door.

And it sounded like a dream come true: every night was a new opportunity to WOW an audience. Every show was a chance to enhance the magic that Staniforth was creating, but there was no glamour: he criss-crossed the country on airplanes and adrenaline, rarely remembering which city he was in because they all looked alike. He missed his wife. It was a recipe for burn-out, which happened in Wisconsin after years of touring.

But bills needed paying and magic was money – or, at least enough to make ends meet. Staniforth didn’t know if he wanted to be a magician anymore, but he couldn’t think of anything else and so, because he wanted to find real magic, he headed for India where it was hot – much hotter than an Iowa cornfield. It was dusty, too, and overwhelming and Staniforth wanted to go home. But he stayed.

He stayed to see snake charmers, gilded rivers, one-armed monkeys, and holy sites. And he stayed long enough to hear a truth his soul needed to hear.

Wow. And to think that I thought this was just some run-of-the-mill old memoir…

Nope, it’s much more than that. With a beautiful bit of literary hocus-pocus, author Nate Staniforth lets readers watch the birth of a magician, right from the beginning. That’s a familiar story to anyone who’s practiced nonstop to follow a dream but Staniforth also shows the drudgery it takes to be successful, beginning with a strange sort of travelogue that’s loaded with exhaustion but that ultimately becomes this story’s reason.

Admittedly, that may sound disheartening – and it is. But, like a good magic trick, you have to wait for the pay-off which, in this case, is so incredibly lovely, a bit humorous, and woven with a plea that readers won’t be able to resist. In the end, Staniforth lets you in on the wonder and for that, “Here is Real Magic” will wow you.

The Bookworm is Terri Schlichenmeyer. Email her at bookwormsez@yahoo.com.

More in Life

Sierra Ferrell performs on the River Stage at Salmonfest in Ninilchik, Alaska, on Friday, Aug. 4, 2023. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)
Salmonfest returns Aug. 2-4 for ‘musically infused family reunion’

The three-day event will feature art, festivities and an array of performers

Gold Peak play the opening set of the Seventh Annual Rock’N the Ranch at the Rusty Ravin on Friday, July 7, 2023, at Rusty Ravin Plant Ranch in Kenai, Alaska. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)
Gold Peak play the opening set of the Seventh Annual Rock’N the Ranch at the Rusty Ravin on Friday, July 7, 2023, at Rusty Ravin Plant Ranch in Kenai. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)
Music fest returns to RustyRavin

The annual nonprofit music festival is a fundraiser for Nuk’it’un, a transitional home for men

Lisa Parker, vice mayor of Soldotna, celebrates after throwing the ceremonial first pitch before a game between the Peninsula Oilers and the Mat-Su Miners on Tuesday, July 4, 2023, at Coral Seymour Memorial Park in Kenai, Alaska. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)
King of the River food drive extended, Kenai takes lead

The winning city’s mayor will throw the opening pitch at a Peninsula Oilers game

File
Minister’s Message: The gift of lament

We don’t always know what to do in those difficult parts of life.

Chickpea lentil and spinach curry is served with rice and yogurt. (Photo by Tressa Dale/Peninsula Clarion)
Finding comfort in memories

I believe that houses hold memories, and I hope the memory of our time there comforts it during its final, painful days.

Virginia Walters (Courtesy photo)
Life in the Pedestrian Lane: Good old summertime

The lupines are crazy this year, as were the dandelions.

This advertisement for the Hilltop Bar and Café, the successor to the Circus Bar, appeared in 1962. The names under “Beer and Booze” refer to co-owners Swede Foss and Steve Henry King. (Advertisement contributed by Jim Taylor)
A violent season — Part 5

Bush did not deny killing Jack Griffiths in October 1961, but he claimed to have had no choice in order to protect himself.

James Franklin Bush was arrested and jailed for vagrancy and contributing to the delinquency of minors in California in 1960, about a year before the murder in Soldotna of Jack Griffiths. (Public document from ancestry.com)
A violent season — Part 4

James Franklin “Jim” Bush stood accused of the Soldotna murder of Jack Griffiths in October 1961

Most Read