Thursday, September 27, 2012

Romance in South Seas

Featured in the photo above is the lovely dust jacket of a romance of the south seas written by Robert Dean Frisbie and published only three years before the author’s death in 1945 (hardback with dust jacket).  According to Wikepedia, Frisbie was born in Cleveland, Ohio, and was an American writer who moved to the south pacific after World War I to improve his poor health.  He settled in Tahiti, married, and fathered five children.  Throughout his lifetime, Frisbie penned numerous travel articles and stories for U.S. publications.  He maintained friendships with other writers, and allegedly Charles Nordhoff and James Hall (think, Mutiny on the Bounty) encouraged Frisbie to write a narrative about his life on Pukapuka (book of the same name published in 1929). 

Despite residing in the south pacific and enjoying life as a writer, Frisbie’s days were not uniformly happy.  He married in 1928, at age 32, and his wife bore him five children before she died in 1939, leaving Frisbie with five young children to rear on his own.  Only three years later in 1943, Frisbie was diagnosed with tuberculosis, and although he continued to travel and write, he died in 1948 of an apparent tetanus infection.  His children were raised by friends and relatives in New Zealand and Hawaii.

A prolific writer of nonfiction travel articles, Frisbie published several novels including Amaru.  Online research indicates that demand (thus cost) of PukaPuka is higher than that for Amaru.  Perhaps PukaPuka, as a memoir, is more sought after.  One of his children, Florence Frisbie, wrote two books, Miss Ulysses of Puka-Puka (Macmillan, 1948) and The Frisbies of the South Seas (Doubleday, 1959).  Be on the lookout for both books which according to online research are difficult to obtain (costly). 

Friday, April 13, 2012

The Magic Behind Magic

If you aspired to the magical as a child, grew up practicing card tricks and sleight of hand, or just enjoyed the obvious skill involved in a good magic show, then "The Encyclopedia of Stage Illusions" by Burling Hull (Ormand McGill, editor) will send a chill up your spine. While the book doesn’t disclose every detail of every stage illusion, it does include enough diagrams and explanations to please both aficionados and neophytes. "The Encyclopedia" was published in a limited edition of 500 copies in 1980 by Magic Ltd. Unfortunately for the publisher, some of the stage illusions were not cleared for copyright before publication and a lawsuit ensued requiring the publisher to recall the book. Fortunately for collectors and magicians some copies were not returned and are still available on the used book market. "The Encyclopedia" is a special book best perused by those who don’t mind knowing the trick behind the illusion, and best left unread by those for whom life is but an illusion.

This oversize and thick book (at 374 pages) was published with a dust jacket over heavy black covers (see actual photo) that have held up well. We doubt this book can be found in a public library (but we have been wrong before). More interesting information on Burling Hull, a magician, prolific author and inventor (who died in 1982) can be found at and