Cellini's Dreamer's Highway
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First, let me say that I am not a performer. Although I do an occasional show for my daughters' classrooms or for a Ring fundraiser, most of my magic efforts are spent reading or building for others.

This past weekend I received Cellini's newest book, "Dreamer's Highway". Being a proud owner of his first book "The Royal Touch", I was really looking forward to this one, for no other reason than it was by Cellini.

Before going any further let me say that it is a thoroughly entertaining book and has something for everyone even remotely interested in street performing. Although at $65.00, it is a bit pricey for a 140-page book, it will provide information you might not find elsewhere. Many topics are covered, such as drawing crowds, planning a show, how to handle local authorities, dealing with problems, etc. There are even a few routining suggestions thrown in. You won't find these topics placed neatly under headings. Rather, you will have to read about them in the context of the people he met or the situations in which he found himself.

As the editor says, this book was put together from Cellini's handwritten pages, in the order that they were submitted. This makes for an interesting, though sometimes uneven, presentation, but in this case, it works.

The book is divided into several sections, each of which is generously peppered with personal anecdotes on his travels and the "friends" (most of whom I had never heard of) he met along the way. The first section deals with Cellini's experiences in the U.S., primarily in New York and New Orleans. Following that are sections on his travels in Europe, followed by a section loosely titled "Hofzinser's Card Conjuring. He has a knack for describing people and places in ways that make you imagine yourself as being there.

He begins in New Orleans and New York City. Having spent a lot of time in New Orleans muself, I remembered Mr. Toot, Rocky (Sonny Holiday), and Sebastiano from their performances in Jackson Square. When Cellini reached New York City and met Slydini for the first time, I found myself wanting another chapter just about "The Master". In this section are several effects and routines, as well as an interesting collection of a hundred-or-so one-liners and other remarks that can be used in all sorts of performing situations. These alone can give you a lot of insight into Cellini's personality.

Each location in Europe had its particular charm and the general populace and local constabulary were very different every place he went. In Switzerland, he particularly enjoyed the beauty of the country, and had his greatest level of monetary success. In Germany, the only question the local law enforcement had was "Do you blow fire?" In Spain, he met an older couple at a bar whose previous occupations had been those of "second-story bandits". In all of the countries he went to he experienced unique performance conditions which, I would think, should cover most situations in which the street performer might find himself.

As you can tell, I thoroughly enjoyed this book and I will certainly read it again. For $65.00, however, I was a bit disappointed in the actual "execution" of the book itself. Many folks are aware of the translation problems that plagued "The Royal Touch". In this book, the editor makes a special note that he only edited Cellini's notes "for spelling and grammer (sic)". As it turns out, my only complaints with this book are the spelling, grammar, and formatting.

There are hundreds of words that are hyphenated at line breaks. This alone is no big deal, but when the hyphenated words are ha-ve, cro-wds, wis-hed, do-wn, lar-ge, soluti-on, ever-yone, assig-nment, etc. this quickly gets old. Although the text is divided into paragraphs, there is no space between the paragraphs, making reading rather tiresome. There are also many instances of run-on sentences and sentence fragments, as well as a piece in the section on Denmark where a story seemingly begins in the middle, almost like there is a paragraph missing.

Speling might have been checked, but the text should have also been proofread for context. "... steak out his pitch for the day", "... caused the wheel to sheer off", "we had never spoke...", and "... three hundred collage students".

These things are disturbing in a high-dollar book such as this, but they are not nearly important enough to make you keep your money in your pockets. This is easily one of the more entertaining reads I have had in quite a while, and I am looking forward to more in the future.

Amos McCormick
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