Johnson, Karl 1959–
Johnson, Karl 1959–
PERSONAL: Born 1959.
CAREER: Writer, journalist, and editor. New York Daily News, New York, NY, former editor.
The Magician and the Cardsharp: The Search for America's Greatest Sleight-of-Hand Artist (nonfiction), Henry Holt (New York, NY), 2005.
Contributor to periodicals.
SIDELIGHTS: A journalist and editor, Karl Johnson's first book, The Magician and the Cardsharp: The Search for America's Greatest Sleight-of-Hand Artist, grew out of an American Heritage article about a quirky event in American history. The book tells of Dai Vernon, who emerged in the 1920s as a master magician after perfecting the art of the card trick. Interestingly, he learned his phenomenal card-handling skills not primarily from other magicians but from cardsharps, the professional cheaters and con artists who depend on perfect card control to earn their living and escape detection. Along the way, he heard the story of a conman who could deal from the center, as opposed to the bottom of the deck, without being detected, a seemingly impossible feat that Vernon dismissed as a legend. However, through conversations with a jailed Mexican gambler, he learned that there was indeed a dealer capable of just that, working somewhere in the area of Kansas City. Eventually he located the man, Allen Kennedy, and saw for himself that the legend was true. "With the verve of a master storyteller, Johnson follows Vernon and Kennedy through their development as artisans, pausing here and there to dip us headlong into the vibrantly portrayed worlds of the magician and the cardsharp," wrote Washington Post Book World reviewer Anne Ursu. David Blaine, in a review for Entertainment Weekly, found that Johnson's "stories unfold like magic, with a constant flow of information and surprise endings."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Booklist, August, 2005, Gilbert Taylor, review of The Magician and the Cardsharp: The Search for America's Greatest Sleight-of-Hand Artist, p. 81.
Entertainment Weekly, August 12, 2005, David Blaine, review of The Magician and the Cardsharp, p. 81.
Kirkus Reviews, June 1, 2005, review of The Magician and the Cardsharp, p. 623.
Publishers Weekly, May 30, 2005, review of The Magician and the Cardsharp, p. 49.
Washington Post Book World, October 9, 2005, Anne Ursu, "Abracadabra," p. 9.