The Gordon Diary seems like an excellent trick to review at the start of a new year – when (traditionally at least – before all these electronic devices) we used to buy our new diaries. I’ve been familiar with the Gordon Diary for many years – since Paul has published it in a number of books (e.g. Nocturnal Creations or most recently Gold Dust). But I was really pleased to see that Alakazam have put it out as a standalone effect for reasons I will go into below.

Let’s get started with the effect – in case you’ve been living in a cave for the last twenty years! It plays like this. The spectator freely shuffles a deck of cards and then names a random date. They then cut the deck and astonishingly the card they cut to is the same card that is printed next to the date they chose in your ‘birthday book’. It is a really clean handling of the classic birthday or diary trick.

What do you get?

You get a really nicely printed ‘Birthday Book’ – more about that later. Also a DVD which runs to about an hour and contains a performance, explanation and lots of hints and tips which haven’t been published in the earlier versions. All comes (in the complete package) beautifully boxed in an attractive black and foil cardboard box.

I’ll come clean, I’ve been a ‘Chronologue’ user for many years – and think that is an excellent effect (I learnt it here on this great DVD). However, one advantage of the Gordon version, is that the range of cards is very large allowing repeat performances more easily. And furthermore, with only the Birthday Book in your pocket you can perform it essentially impromptu – with any borrowed deck of cards.

Let’s get back to the diary itself. I’ve been performing a version of this kind of effect for years and have been constantly looking for a ‘birthday book’ that would fit in my pocket – and never been able to find one. Which means in practise that I have to write out a new diary every year if I want to be current (if I’m honest – I’m still using a diary from some years ago on the basis that spectators are very unlikely to notice the year – but magicians guilt etc.).

paul gordon - gordon diary - reviewHere you have a diary of the perfect size (fits in any pocket) – with lovely bold printing (so easy to read – and you don’t have to write anything in yourself). And it also has some extra information – around star signs etc. – which may be of use in other routines.

What you should consider

There is some maths involved. That may put some of you off. It shouldn’t. It is pretty simple maths I think – and you have a decent amount of time to do it. And if you really can’t cope, you could use the little crib card – which has been provided, nicely printed on Bicycle stock. Both Paul and Peter Nardi provide some ideas on handling which give you plenty of cover for the use of the crib.

They also explain how to set up/produce the diary in your own language or with your own diary if you don’t want to use the one supplied (or if you buy the ‘basic’ version).

Lots of variations are taught and ideas shared to get your own imagination going. One highlight is a doozer of a force from someone called Mike Davis! And of course, like all Alakazam releases, it is possible to download further ideas from their website as they are shared.

So the Gordon Diary Trick seems to us a great release. If you pushed me really hard to find a niggle, I’d say that the sound quality is a bit odd in parts of the DVD. But this really is a minor criticism. This effect is a real worker – as attested by the number of pros that use it regularly. If you’re prepared to put in a small amount of work to get the maths in your head you’ll have a miracle on your hands. And even if you use the crib you will still be able to knock the socks off people. I think this is likely to replace Chronologue in my set. Highly recommended.

It is sold in two different versions. This review covers the complete package – and I would highly recommend getting this if you don’t want to have to make your own diary. The one they have produced really is worth the investment.

But if you would prefer to make up your own version, you can buy the ‘lite’ version – which just includes the DVD and the crib – and you would have to make up your own diary. If you really wanted to save money, you could probably pick up one of Paul’s older books second hand fairly cheaply (especially since so much of it has been republished recently in his Gold Dust series). However, for those who prefer to learn visually, or simply to take advantage of all the extra tips already available via the Alakazam release, it is worth the relatively modest investment for the ‘lite’ version.

The Gordon Diary is available from the Merchant of Magic for £45.50 (the complete package) or £24.99 (for the ‘lite’ version) – at the time of writing.

Review copy kindly provided by Murphys Magic to whom dealer enquiries should be directed.

Paul Gordon – Gordon Diary – Review
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