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Truth and lies are two sides of the same coin. But who's flipping it? A thought-provoking and brilliantly entertaining work of non-fiction from one of the world's leading deceivers, the creator and star of the astonishing theater show and forthcoming film In & Of Itself. Derek DelGaudio believed he was a decent, honest man. But when irrefutable evidence to the contrary is f Truth and lies are two sides of the same coin. But who's flipping it? A thought-provoking and brilliantly entertaining work of non-fiction from one of the world's leading deceivers, the creator and star of the astonishing theater show and forthcoming film In & Of Itself. Derek DelGaudio believed he was a decent, honest man. But when irrefutable evidence to the contrary is found in an old journal, his memories are reawakened and Derek is forced to confront—and try to understand—his role in a significant act of deception from his past. Using his youthful notebook entries as a road map, Derek embarks on a soulful, often funny, sometimes dark journey, retracing the path that led him to a world populated by charlatans, card cheats, and con artists. As stories are peeled away and artifices are revealed, Derek examines the mystery behind his father's vanishing act, the secret he inherited from his mother, the obsession he developed with sleight-of-hand that shaped his future, and the affinity he felt for the professional swindlers who taught him how to deceive others. And once he finds himself working as a crooked dealer in a big-money Hollywood card game, Derek begins to question his own sense of morality, and discovers that even a master of deception can find himself trapped inside an illusion. Amoralman is a wildly engaging exploration of the fictions we live as truths. It is ultimately a book about the lies we tell ourselves and the realities we manufacture in others.


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Truth and lies are two sides of the same coin. But who's flipping it? A thought-provoking and brilliantly entertaining work of non-fiction from one of the world's leading deceivers, the creator and star of the astonishing theater show and forthcoming film In & Of Itself. Derek DelGaudio believed he was a decent, honest man. But when irrefutable evidence to the contrary is f Truth and lies are two sides of the same coin. But who's flipping it? A thought-provoking and brilliantly entertaining work of non-fiction from one of the world's leading deceivers, the creator and star of the astonishing theater show and forthcoming film In & Of Itself. Derek DelGaudio believed he was a decent, honest man. But when irrefutable evidence to the contrary is found in an old journal, his memories are reawakened and Derek is forced to confront—and try to understand—his role in a significant act of deception from his past. Using his youthful notebook entries as a road map, Derek embarks on a soulful, often funny, sometimes dark journey, retracing the path that led him to a world populated by charlatans, card cheats, and con artists. As stories are peeled away and artifices are revealed, Derek examines the mystery behind his father's vanishing act, the secret he inherited from his mother, the obsession he developed with sleight-of-hand that shaped his future, and the affinity he felt for the professional swindlers who taught him how to deceive others. And once he finds himself working as a crooked dealer in a big-money Hollywood card game, Derek begins to question his own sense of morality, and discovers that even a master of deception can find himself trapped inside an illusion. Amoralman is a wildly engaging exploration of the fictions we live as truths. It is ultimately a book about the lies we tell ourselves and the realities we manufacture in others.

30 review for Amoralman: A True Story and Other Lies

  1. 5 out of 5

    Matthew Carey

    I found Derek's show "In and Of Itself" mesmerising and I couldn't wait to read Amoralman. I devoured it in a few hours and now I'm looking forward to going back to watch I&OI again because I suspect this book unlocks extra layers within the show. I highly recommend the book. I loved how he tackles the struggle he's felt between tricks and truths. I found Derek's show "In and Of Itself" mesmerising and I couldn't wait to read Amoralman. I devoured it in a few hours and now I'm looking forward to going back to watch I&OI again because I suspect this book unlocks extra layers within the show. I highly recommend the book. I loved how he tackles the struggle he's felt between tricks and truths.

  2. 4 out of 5

    David Wineberg

    In the mids 80s, Monty Python’s Graham Chapman wrote his autobiography. He titled it A Liar’s Autobiography, and the preface was by the six co-authors. Now, Derek DelGaudio has published his own, called Amoralman, a chain of memoirs about people who lie, cheat and steal, as well as magicians who simply deceive. Spot the difference? DelGaudio’s story is much more cohesive. It is a very well-constructed collection of memories, often introduced by mysterious stories that later play into the memoir a In the mids 80s, Monty Python’s Graham Chapman wrote his autobiography. He titled it A Liar’s Autobiography, and the preface was by the six co-authors. Now, Derek DelGaudio has published his own, called Amoralman, a chain of memoirs about people who lie, cheat and steal, as well as magicians who simply deceive. Spot the difference? DelGaudio’s story is much more cohesive. It is a very well-constructed collection of memories, often introduced by mysterious stories that later play into the memoir and are thereby explained. He keeps the reader’s interest, because really, no one ever knows where this is going. DelGaudio was/is the product of a broken marriage. He lacked drive, ambition and persistence. No friends, no relatives, a gay mother, and an unsociable loner. That is until he discovered magic and a magicians’ store. He was so enamored of it all he practiced until he was a polished expert, and took a job at the store, impressing customers and getting them to buy their own. Never finished high school. The weird thing is, he has one huge problem with his skills; he will not perform tricks in public, he says. This rather limits his potential. He says his hands turn to painful ice at the prospect of merely having to deal a poker game, even an honest one. But not to fear. The store owner helps him network his way to famous magicians and hustlers. He befriends one hustler and takes over his crooked dealer position when the hustler gets busted. The story really takes off when readers learn the massive shakedown going on in this Beverly Hills (rented) mansion, where rich amateurs are relieved of their stakes every week. Thanks in no small part to our hero, It’s an education in the finer points of cheating, as well as the arcane facets of poker. All of the footnotes in the book explain poker terms and jargon. There are some surprises. His hustler friend shamelessly drives from town to town, betting the locals on things they are certain they’re right about. But the fix is in, and they always lose. Apparently this is not sufficiently lucrative, and Ronnie, as DelGaudio calls him, always has trouble making even the modest rent on his Las Vegas apartment. He is paranoid, screening his calls, hiding his phone number and watching his back, which has been stabbed several times already. Then about a hundred pages after they meet, it turns out Ronnie is black, a trifling detail DelGaudio sloughs off like deuce of clubs. There is no discussion of different swindles for different folks or how a white kid and a black hustler differ in their approaches – or anything race related at all. It makes it remarkable Ronnie has even lived this long, let alone continues to hustle the locals in rural America. And perhaps tells readers why everything has been so difficult in Ronnie’s life. But a hundred pages later? That is bizarre. In the end, our hero discovers, at least he thinks, that he has been hustled by his own boss, the host of the poker game. Seems the boss and his son have been purposely losing big to an insider third player, in order to reduce the gross of which DelGaudio gets a percentage. So despite making the best money in his short life - a minimum of $2500 a night - (he is in his early 20s!), DelGaudio learns he should have made a whole lot more. So he quits. And there it ends. So the question poses itself: have readers been hustled too? Does any of this have even the remotest connection to truth? Are any of the (very rich, colorful and detailed) characters real? It is, after all, titled Amoralman, where none of the key players has the slightest compunction over lying, cheating and swindling. So has DelGaudio swindled readers too? Regardless of the truth, it’s great ride by a fine storyteller. David Wineberg

  3. 5 out of 5

    Allen Adams

    https://www.themaineedge.com/style/am... Introspection is difficult. Looking within ourselves and asking questions about who we are is a challenge that the vast majority of us are unable (or unwilling) to face. One can pay lip service to the notion of self-examination, but the actual doing is hard. Too often, memoirs trend toward the lip service side of things. That’s not a judgment – it’s tough enough to tell the story of your truth to yourself, let alone to the world. It just means that the auto https://www.themaineedge.com/style/am... Introspection is difficult. Looking within ourselves and asking questions about who we are is a challenge that the vast majority of us are unable (or unwilling) to face. One can pay lip service to the notion of self-examination, but the actual doing is hard. Too often, memoirs trend toward the lip service side of things. That’s not a judgment – it’s tough enough to tell the story of your truth to yourself, let alone to the world. It just means that the autobiographical explorations that really dig into a person’s identity are vanishingly rare. Derek DelGaudio’s “AMORALMAN: A True Story and Other Lies” is such a rarity, a work of thoughtful, honest self-awareness that isn’t quite like anything I’d ever read before. And believe me – that’s a good thing. It’s a story of truth that is unafraid of untruth, which might sound contradictory, but when you delve into DelGaudio’s words, it makes perfect sense. This book is magic in multiple senses of the word. It is magic because it is narratively transportive, a book that sweeps the reader up into the world being created, pages crammed with vivid storytelling. But it is also magic in the performative sense, in that it is also about the art of stage magic, specifically sleight-of-hand. And it is magic in that it allows its author to reinvestigate his own history, to use the perspective of the present to change his view of the past – a transformation of both the man he is and the man he once was. When Derek DelGaudio was a young man, he developed an affinity for (some might say obsession with) the art of prestidigitation – sleight of hand. This devotion to the creation of illusion stayed with him, allowing him to develop a unique set of skills that in many ways transcended the significant gifts of those who came before him. We learn about his early life, from a father who departed from his life early on to a mother who struggled to raise him alone even as she dealt with drastic changes in her own world. Secrets became a key part of DelGaudio’s everyday life – particularly when he learned a harsh lesson in what can happen when certain secrets are revealed. His direction is changed forever when he discovers a magic shop, run by a gentleman who would become both a mentor and more than a mentor. This is where DelGaudio’s destiny is cemented, where he begins to learn the skills and techniques that would inform the rest of his life. It is also the beginning of his introduction into some more unsavory circles, when his sphere expands from stage magicians and the like into the shadowy realm of card sharps and mechanics, men whose devotion to making a deck of cards dance wasn’t about performance, but profit. His skills are such that he impresses even these hardened warriors of the poker table, gaining access to some of the hard-won skills that those grizzled grifters possess. Add another secret to the deck – one that comes at a cost. When DelGaudio’s path leads him to a crooked high-stakes card game – one where he is enlisted as a dealer to help the house fix the proceedings – he begins to put his skills to use in a very different way. And while he has some initial misgivings, he soon learns that not only is he capable of doing what it takes to fix a card game, he’s good at it. REALLY good. But that time at the table, while lucrative, comes with its own cost. Specifically, he’s left asking himself the creeping question: am I a good person? “AMORALMAN” is everything I want in a memoir, including a few things that I didn’t even know I wanted before I read it. It is among the most compelling works of autobiography that I’ve ever read; DelGaudio’s stories of his life would be fascinating enough on their own, but when driven by his tremendous storytelling talents, they’re elevated to the nth degree. It’s as though DelGaudio broke down the form into its component parts and then reassembled them with the same dexterous deftness with which he handles a deck of cards. And make no mistake, he’s as gifted a memory mechanic as he is a card mechanic. Even with a more-or-less linear narrative thread, DelGaudio proves unafraid to occasionally deal from the middle or the bottom of the deck, giving us the hand he wants us to have rather than leaving it up to fate. He doesn’t want us to have a chance to win, but a guarantee. In his hands, the game is not a game, but a foregone conclusion. The idea that one could bring to life the intricacies of this world through the written word, both in the macro sense of interpersonal dynamics and in the micro sense of sleight of hand minutiae, would seem nigh-impossible on its face. Yet DelGaudio does it with seeming ease – the reader can feel the stresses and satisfactions of it all, brought to bright life. There’s a brilliant framing story, one that ties it all together and whose details I’ll let you discover for yourself. Oh, and it all kicks off with a version of Plato’s Allegory of the Cave. All of this, mind you, pays off at high-stakes-fixed-card-game levels. “AMORALMAN” is a memoir unlike any other, beautifully written and brilliantly conceived. Derek DelGaudio is an artist whose work defies categorization; this book is an unexpected, yet completely logical extension of the also-brilliant stage show “In & Of Itself” (which, if you haven’t seen it, there’s a filmed version on Hulu and you have never seen its like). He is a one-of-one, a creative unicorn – a legitimately unique talent. I genuinely cannot wait to see what he does next.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Peter McDermott

    Despite being neither a magician nor a gambler myself, I'm deeply interested in the subjects of magic and gambling, so it was inevitable I'd get to Derek Delgaudio's book, Amoralman, sooner rather than later. One of the profound truths about magic is that it's a subject that geeky kids tend to embrace, but as soon as they become successful at it, they want to pretend they aren't magicians. One of the time tested roles they tend to adopt is that they aren't *really* magicians, they picked up their Despite being neither a magician nor a gambler myself, I'm deeply interested in the subjects of magic and gambling, so it was inevitable I'd get to Derek Delgaudio's book, Amoralman, sooner rather than later. One of the profound truths about magic is that it's a subject that geeky kids tend to embrace, but as soon as they become successful at it, they want to pretend they aren't magicians. One of the time tested roles they tend to adopt is that they aren't *really* magicians, they picked up their skills was card mechanics, cheating at poker. Daniel Madison has made a small fortune hustling magic rubes into buying his knuckle busting books and videos on the internet with his claims that as a poker hustling prodigy, he narrowly escaped with his life. Delgaudio has a great deal in common with Madison. Both like to present themselves as 'performance artists' rather than 'mere magicians'. Delgaudio succeeds where Madison fails though, in one critical respect: he combines his magic with a talent for storytelling and does so in the exploration of ideas. And it's at this point that, like everyone else who reviews this book. I'm going to tell you to go and watch his movie, 'In and of itself' -- a film of his hugely successful stage show in which he explores questions of identity formation and family -- both his own and that of his audience -- and in the process, raises the form to a new level. (While this review is about the book rather than the stage show, I can't help but note that, although the show is outstanding, it's the storytelling and the combination of magic and ideas that makes it so. He's obviously an outstanding magician, but the magic didn't evoke a sense of wonder in me in the way that Derren Brown's best work did, but it may well be more successful than Brown's shows have been because of the quality of the storytelling and the fact that both storytelling and magic are used in the service of exploring important issues. If you have any interest in magic at all, you've probably watched it by now, but if you haven't, go dig it out. It's on Hulu, but I believe you can rent it for a single watch.) Without wishing to give too much away, Amoralman covers a lot of the same material as In and Of Itself. In many ways, it's become the archetypal entry into magic story. Alienated. geeky kid lacks a father figure in his life. Picked on at school (atheists in the Bible Belt with a pair of lesbians for moms) he retreats into obsessive magic practice, something that intensifies when he adopts a surrogate father in the form of the owner of his local magic shop. And like so many magicians before him, his interest in knuckle-busting slight of hand rapidly develops into the field of gambling slights. As Delgaudio points out, there's a huge tradition of magicians taking moves from the best of the card mechanics -- going back to the 1920's and 30's when the grand old men of magic -- people like Dai Vernon, Charlie Miller, John Scarne, etc would seek out legendary card cheats in an attempt to learn their super-secret moves. (If you have any interest in this subject, I recommend Phantoms at the Card Table by David Britland and Gazzo, in which these two legendary magicians reconstruct some of these historical attempts to locate a guy who could deal from the centre of the deck, and track down one candidate in a nursing home.) Delgaudio's magic shop mentor lends him a copy of Steve Forte's legendary four volume VHS collection on Casino Gambling Protection and in doing so, piques his interest in gambling slights. (My own interest in the subject came when I picked up a copy of Darwin Ortiz's book, Gambling Scams in the bargain bin of the American Bookshop in Amsterdam back in 1985 -- and persists, so I've just finished Forte's two volume book from 2020 on Gambling Slight of Hand.) Eventually, Delgaudio's magic shop mentor hooks him up with a genuine casino hustler, the pair bond over Delgaudio's knucklebusting skills and so begins his journey to becoming a 'real hustler.' At the heart of the book is the question of whether Delgaudio actually became a *real* hustler, or whether he's just another charlatan a la Daniel Madison. There's no question that he has the necessary skills -- but as he says in the book, by the time he got into gambling, artful slight of hand had moved on to technology driven scams. And from my own reading, genuine card hustlers have never really relied on having a large repertoire of knuckle busting skillful moves -- they tend to rely on a small number of relatively crude moves designed to 'get the money'. But while I've long been affronted by Daniel Madison's pretending he isn't a magician, he's actually a card cheat who turned magician to earn a living, I'm not at all affronted by Delgaudio's pretence (if pretence is what it turns out to be -- and I'm fairly sure much of it is.) Because just like his movie, Amoralman is a book that's designed to tell a compelling story about the formation of identity -- and he succeeds in that in spades. . The last magic book I reviewed on Goodreads was Magic is Dead by Ian Frisch. Like this book, it was a story of the author's entry into magic -- and it sucked. This book is everything that the Frisch book aspired to be and failed at. It's a compelling read from start to end and if you've got any interest in magic at all, I can't recommend it highly enough.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Andrew Martin

    The moment we knowingly conceal information from others we set a boundary between ourselves and those who do not possess the knowledge. This boundary provides us with a space of privacy and privilege. It can be used to shield us from pain and protect us from harm. Or it can act as a barrier, built to exclude and suppress those deemed unworthy of access. I preordered AMORMALMAN within a half hour of finishing DelGaudio's magnificent In and Of Itself on Hulu, which many viewers on the Internet (inc The moment we knowingly conceal information from others we set a boundary between ourselves and those who do not possess the knowledge. This boundary provides us with a space of privacy and privilege. It can be used to shield us from pain and protect us from harm. Or it can act as a barrier, built to exclude and suppress those deemed unworthy of access. I preordered AMORMALMAN within a half hour of finishing DelGaudio's magnificent In and Of Itself on Hulu, which many viewers on the Internet (including myself) still fail to adequately describe. This memoir is similarly thoughtful and centers itself around DelGaudio's battles with deception, especially as they relate to his early interactions and prolonged fascination with Plato's Allegory of the Cave in the context of his growth as a magician and card cheat: For me, the story was centered around a deliberate act of deception. To gloss over that deception, and ignore the motives of the deceiver, was incomprehensible to me. The Universe wasn't trying to deceive us when we believed the Earth was at its center. And the Earth wasn't trying to pull the wool over our eyes when we believed it was flat. But the puppeteer in the cave was trying to deceive those prisoners. And I wanted to know why. Of course, simply describing DelGaudio as a magician is insufficient: Magicians broadcast their deception. They take credit for their illusions by pointing to their secrets. They don't reveal their privileged information, but they admit to having it, flaunting it with flourishes and winks. Magicians are theatrical. And they use that theatricality to help perpetrate the deception. Is he waving his hands like that for dramatic effect, or does he need to move in that manner to execute the secret action? Is he wearing those out-of-date coattails to look dapper, or to hide the doves? Is he telling us this to fill time and "entertain" us, or does he need to say this to justify the actions necessary for the effect? Magicians are not obligate to adhere to the rituals and behaviors of the natural world. Because they exist in the realm of fantasy, their work is fiction. They are performers, and they do not hid the fact that they are performing. Other than ridicule, there are no negative consequences for seeming unnatural. For cheaters, the stakes are too high. They are not afforded the luxuries of attention, unnaturalness, and flair; the cheater seeks to remain invisible. Must remain invisible. Which means their actions and behavior, the clothes they wear, the way they speak -- it must all appear natural. Their illusions must always be seen as truths. I'm not interested in fooling people. Or at least that's why I'm so uncomfortable performing as a magician. It's not about deception. It's about the deception of truth. To know illusions is to know reality. How can we know what's true if we can't recognize what's false?... Both the stage play and the magic show present illusions. But the play uses its illusions to point to larger truths. The magic show points to itself. The magician keeps the audience focused on the illusion. Deception is the point. What truth does deception for deception's sake reveal? That we can be deceived? That's not enough. Indeed, DelGaudio does not become a typical magician. He instead comes to see himself as a version of the escapee in Plato's story, desiring to use illusions to "set free" the people around him. After all, "those are his people down there and it's not their fault they can't accept the truth he's trying to show them." Struggling to determine how to actually do that, he all but abandons magic before eventually coming to work as a card cheat in a high-stakes poker ring. There, DelGaudio acts as an illusion-manufacturer himself and is forced to reckon with the deception he facilitates with each cut of the deck. AMORALMAN is a page-turner, and a very honest book about lying. DelGaudio would resist receiving labels of his own. AMORALMAN satisfies in its readability, depth, and (view spoiler)[ultimate revelation that in fact DelGaudio himself was being deceived all along, and that we the readers were the subjects of a trick of his own design as well (hide spoiler)] . Fine in its standalone form, AMORALMAN really ought to be read as a precursor and companion to In and Of Itself, for it shows us major milestones in DelGaudio's journey to help free us from the truths, lies, and labels around us.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Adam Roesner

    Derek DelGaudio is a scintillating artist. Whether you have seen his one man show on Hulu, "In & Of Itself," or this is your first exposure to him, you are in for a treat. Amoralman takes the reader through the life of a troubled young person who strives to reclaim his world through commitment to his conception of himself, even as he doesn't quite see it clearly. The story is charming and easy to read, and if nothing else it serves as a decent enough noir-esque where the nature of the mystery is Derek DelGaudio is a scintillating artist. Whether you have seen his one man show on Hulu, "In & Of Itself," or this is your first exposure to him, you are in for a treat. Amoralman takes the reader through the life of a troubled young person who strives to reclaim his world through commitment to his conception of himself, even as he doesn't quite see it clearly. The story is charming and easy to read, and if nothing else it serves as a decent enough noir-esque where the nature of the mystery is unclear but the unfolding is enjoyable all its own. I would like to quickly address the criticisms that I have seen in other reviews: 1. "I think DelGaudio lies a lot in this book." If you walked away from this story uncertain of what was truth and what was artistic license or fantasy, congratulations you're not alone. The deliberate effect of the story is to draw the reader into a trance-like state, akin to Alice in Wonderland, unsure what is totally real. This narrative deals with themes of deception, lies, and storytelling and if that's going to bother you then this book might not be for you. For me though, I found the lack of certainty to be part and parcel to the object of the book, and of the show that I referenced earlier. DelGaudio is trying to bring you to question the story, the one in the book and the one(s) you tell yourself. 2. "Too short." This one is also half true. I read the book in basically one sitting (I had read the first 25 pages the day before). All-in-all, it took me about four hours to read, and it felt like even less. If the $27 price tag bothers you for a read of that length, then you may want to wait until it comes out in paperback or pick it up from your local library. All of that being said, let's not throw the baby out with the bathwater. The book is easy to read, clocking in at about 232 narrative pages, and I did not regret anything about it. 3. There are some people who wrote reviews of this book predicated on simple factual inaccuracies and sloppy readings. Don't let people's claims of authorial oversights scare you away, I haven't come across a critique of that kind yet that was borne out by a close reading of the text. The above two criticisms have some truth to them, but this group is, as far as I can tell, generally void of content. My recommendation: read it closely, read it carefully, and let yourself go wherever it takes you.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Max Tachis

    I bypassed the entire To Read stack on my table and stopped midway through the book I'm currently involved in to dive into "Amoralman" the second it arrived on my doorstep. It's a quick read! Due in part to the pace of the author's clippy prose but also because I was completely engrossed from the very first page and simply could not put the dang thing down. To be fair, I was actually engrossed (as I'm sure many others here are) even before the first page; several weeks ago upon watching Derek Del I bypassed the entire To Read stack on my table and stopped midway through the book I'm currently involved in to dive into "Amoralman" the second it arrived on my doorstep. It's a quick read! Due in part to the pace of the author's clippy prose but also because I was completely engrossed from the very first page and simply could not put the dang thing down. To be fair, I was actually engrossed (as I'm sure many others here are) even before the first page; several weeks ago upon watching Derek Delgaudio's "In & Of Itself" production on Hulu. A performance and experience as stunning as that was sure to stay with me forever and destroy any chance at an unbiased experience with the book. However, being familiar with "In & Of Itself" only helps insofar as it gives you some visual idea of the moves and sleights Delgaudio is describing in the book, and how unfathomably impressive they are. I promise it is not required viewing before you read (thought I will still suggest it because it's so terrific). This is a fast-paced and engaging origin story for neither a hero nor a villain, but someone who can clearly see beyond such definitions and uses his powers to show us that world. To reveal, to the extent that he can, a more truthful reality through deception than we may ever get through the truth alone. A story of navigating a world that becomes more complex with every generation, the weight of lies and secrets, and the ripple effect those secrets can have later in your life in ways you don't even recognize until, by chance, you happen upon an old notebook (or diary or school picture or any discarded remnant of your past). Memories are tangible things and they attach themselves to people and objects long after they've left your mind, waiting patiently to spring back to the forefront whenever you return. But do they spring back to life exactly as they were before? Are they even memories anymore, or just accepted lies? "Amoralman" is a more straightforward narrative than I expected to get from this artist I only recently learned about, but don't expect to make your way through without at least a little misdirection. In the end, whatever you read will have some effect on you, so does it really matter if it's true?

  8. 4 out of 5

    Cyn Donnelly

    If you know the name Derek DelGaudio it’s probably either because you have a deep appreciation for sleight of hand or you were fortunate enough to see his one-man show “In & Of Itself” either in person or on Hulu. And if you aren’t familiar with him, this book is an entertaining way to get to know him...sort of. “Amoralman” feels like the natural progression from “In & Of Itself.” Which isn’t to say that you need to see the performance to appreciate the book. You absolutely don’t. But they are gr If you know the name Derek DelGaudio it’s probably either because you have a deep appreciation for sleight of hand or you were fortunate enough to see his one-man show “In & Of Itself” either in person or on Hulu. And if you aren’t familiar with him, this book is an entertaining way to get to know him...sort of. “Amoralman” feels like the natural progression from “In & Of Itself.” Which isn’t to say that you need to see the performance to appreciate the book. You absolutely don’t. But they are great companion pieces. (And if you are planning to consume both, I’d suggest starting with “In & Of Itself.”) Derek absolutely knows how to tell a story and how to keep you interested in what he has to say. He has a gentle way of telling a story that makes you want to read more. It isn’t an accident that so many have said they read this book in one sitting. Derek makes you want to know more, so it’s easy to lose time in this book and just keep reading. To say he’s lived an interesting life is understating it, and “Amoralman” is an entertaining and quite fascinating glimpse into what made Derek the person he is. His conversational tone makes you feel like he’s sitting next to you sharing some intimate pieces of his life. He’s painfully specific with the stories he chooses to share, which serves to create more questions about who he is and how he got to this point in his life. I have a tendency to sometimes read the end of a book before I begin it and I couldn’t be happier that I chose NOT to do that in this case. Looking forward to reading more from Derek!

  9. 4 out of 5

    Luke Mosher

    I really dug Delgaudio's concert film In and Of Itself (directed by Frank Oz, check it out on Hulu), and have listened to a couple interviews with him, so I was excited to read this one. It's a quick read, fascinating and insightful, though Delgaudio's prose style is pretty flat. It reads like any number of thrillers, pretty plain language, easy to read. What makes it interesting is the subject matter, along with the fact that it's all true. Anything involving someone getting really, really, rea I really dug Delgaudio's concert film In and Of Itself (directed by Frank Oz, check it out on Hulu), and have listened to a couple interviews with him, so I was excited to read this one. It's a quick read, fascinating and insightful, though Delgaudio's prose style is pretty flat. It reads like any number of thrillers, pretty plain language, easy to read. What makes it interesting is the subject matter, along with the fact that it's all true. Anything involving someone getting really, really, really skillful at their craft is naturally compelling. I felt the same way about Malcolm Gladwell's Outliers. Delgaudio is, it would seem, one of the best sleight-of-hand card magicians in the world, and the story of how he developed the skill and how he translated that into being a poker cardshark is just naturally fascinating. Play up the story a little bit and it could be a good crime movie, like Rounders crossed with The Prestige. A good exploration of Plato's cave allegory, too, from the perspective of the guy controlling the wall puppets, which is truly a unique take on that classic thought experiment. Good threading of the themes throughout--truth and illusion, the difference between a magician and someone cheating at cards, the absence of a father and the hole that leaves, obsession. I dug this and encourage everyone to at least go and watch In and Of Itself, which is great.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Nick

    This is a great book. Imagine mixing the best parts of a young Ricky Jay, but without the polish and experience; the complexity of the con in The Sting, but more grit than wit; characters straight out of a great novel or award-winning movie, but with human failings; graduate-level philosophy and psychology seminars without the jargon and with practical application; and an, in my impression, honest, reliable narrator. Delgaudio tells just enough anecdotes from his childhood to set the stage for h This is a great book. Imagine mixing the best parts of a young Ricky Jay, but without the polish and experience; the complexity of the con in The Sting, but more grit than wit; characters straight out of a great novel or award-winning movie, but with human failings; graduate-level philosophy and psychology seminars without the jargon and with practical application; and an, in my impression, honest, reliable narrator. Delgaudio tells just enough anecdotes from his childhood to set the stage for his discovery of magic and journey to becoming a working card mechanic. Delgaudio does not have, or chooses not to tell, very many stories from his time in the magic shop, on a road trip, or dealing cards, but the ones he tells are fascinating and makes Delgaudio relatable in a way that celebrity memoirs can fail to do. Delgaudio's story and characters seem so surreal that the movie or TV that inevitably results could probably fittingly carry on the tag line "a true story," as opposed to "based on," and it is fun to think about which actors would do the best job doing justice to the characters in the book. After reading Delgaudio's book, I look forward to watching his show and seeing his work over what I hope is a long career.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Robert

    Following his highly esteemed live show and subsequent video version, DelGaudio has published an autobiographical "story" about his entry into deception and performance. "Story" is in quotes, reflecting the subtitle of the book. Plato's Allegory of the Cave sets the structure of the work. The early part covers a version of his early days of family and exposure to card magic. How that early focus on learning the card moves shared by magicians and gamblers led to his quest for the highest skill le Following his highly esteemed live show and subsequent video version, DelGaudio has published an autobiographical "story" about his entry into deception and performance. "Story" is in quotes, reflecting the subtitle of the book. Plato's Allegory of the Cave sets the structure of the work. The early part covers a version of his early days of family and exposure to card magic. How that early focus on learning the card moves shared by magicians and gamblers led to his quest for the highest skill levels of both, completes the first part of the book. Then he gets serious. His deep dedication to card control eventually brought him into the world of serious gambling. DelGaudio eventually leaves professional card cheating... but leaves us there, with only hints about how his subsequent fascinations with various art forms would affect his later performance style. Magicians will appreciate his dedication to learning difficult card move and his awakening to the realization that the moves are only part of the challenge. Understanding the audience, motivating them with emotional content, then allowing them no escape, presents a deeper message for would-be performers.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Nathan Miller

    It's very entertaining. It's pretty clever. But I do have a couple gripes. #1 It was very short. It probably could have been an essay. I was expecting a lot more reading hours than I got. It's just a very small book, with small pages. #2 I think some parts of the story are made up and did not happen. Which might be a clever writing device that is justified b/c of his admission in the title (A True Story and Other Lies) and the nature of the topic at hand. But I get the feeling that certain thing It's very entertaining. It's pretty clever. But I do have a couple gripes. #1 It was very short. It probably could have been an essay. I was expecting a lot more reading hours than I got. It's just a very small book, with small pages. #2 I think some parts of the story are made up and did not happen. Which might be a clever writing device that is justified b/c of his admission in the title (A True Story and Other Lies) and the nature of the topic at hand. But I get the feeling that certain things were added to the story in order to get more book sales. I suppose I will never know. But my bullshit detector was going off a lot. ***SPOILER*** One clever thing was he told a story about how he only lied to his mom once. And then felt so guilty he confessed five minutes later. Then at the end of the book he confesses to the reader that one of the stories he told in the beginning of the book is false. Just was a clever thing to I thought. There's a lot of connections like that in the book and I like how he doesn't point them out. They're left there for sharp readers to find.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Samantha | thisbookbelongsto.sw

    I was really eager to read this book after seeing "In and Of Itself" and, just like Delguadio's one man show, this did not disappoint! I'm not even someone who typically likes "magic" (as in sleight of hand), but Delguadio is a natural storyteller with such an interesting life and his perception of magic as a kind of intentful deception (he describes it way better) is so compelling. He speaks of these skills with such reverence, it really brings these ideas into a new light (for me at least). If I was really eager to read this book after seeing "In and Of Itself" and, just like Delguadio's one man show, this did not disappoint! I'm not even someone who typically likes "magic" (as in sleight of hand), but Delguadio is a natural storyteller with such an interesting life and his perception of magic as a kind of intentful deception (he describes it way better) is so compelling. He speaks of these skills with such reverence, it really brings these ideas into a new light (for me at least). If you've seen "In and Of Itself" you might know a little bit about the author (specifically the brick story and about his mother). This book continues from there and delves into how he became interested in sleight of hand and then into how he developed and leveraged his skills into his work as a card cheat; dealing crooked hands at fixed poker games. I tore through this book and loved every second of it. That being said, I'd probably urge anyone interested in reading this to check out Delguadio's one man show first (it hits similarly but differently, and will set you up to be thoroughly impressed by this book that documents a wildly unique life experience).

  14. 4 out of 5

    Marty

    I had the pleasure of seeing Mr. Delgaudio perform in NYC a few years ago and his show is amazing, captivating, entertaining, mind=blowing, superlative in every way. This book is his early years and has a lot of stuff about learning magic, honing that craft to an unbelievable level of proficiency, dealing poker, cheating, secrets, deceptions large and small, and morality, i.e., what it all means. As just a straightforward account of magic, cards, coming of age, it's really great. When it comes t I had the pleasure of seeing Mr. Delgaudio perform in NYC a few years ago and his show is amazing, captivating, entertaining, mind=blowing, superlative in every way. This book is his early years and has a lot of stuff about learning magic, honing that craft to an unbelievable level of proficiency, dealing poker, cheating, secrets, deceptions large and small, and morality, i.e., what it all means. As just a straightforward account of magic, cards, coming of age, it's really great. When it comes to the philosophy part, what it means to be a moral person, I find it less convincing. I think he simultaneously doesn't probe the subject enough, perhaps fearing that it has been written about exhaustively already by better writers (it has), and probes it too broadly, just not deeply. If you ever get the chance to see him perform, do it. In fact, go to great lengths, pay lots of money, whatever, but see him. You won't regret it. Read this book, as it really is very good, just don't expect it to be transporting, as his show is.

  15. 4 out of 5

    John Singh

    Derek DelGaudio is interested in telling the truth through lies, or deceiving us into learning the truth, but no matter how you may define his goal, he is at his heart a storyteller, who weaves together various strands of (what we assume to be) his own life into astute observations about some fundamental truths of human nature. Almost every single page of “Amoralman” contains a rich insight presented in a new way. It’s got a high ratio of biting social commentary and hard-won truths weaves throug Derek DelGaudio is interested in telling the truth through lies, or deceiving us into learning the truth, but no matter how you may define his goal, he is at his heart a storyteller, who weaves together various strands of (what we assume to be) his own life into astute observations about some fundamental truths of human nature. Almost every single page of “Amoralman” contains a rich insight presented in a new way. It’s got a high ratio of biting social commentary and hard-won truths weaves throughout this short(ish) tale of DelGaudio’s life cheating at cards. But this is DelGaudio, so there is more here than it may seem, and certainly more worth pondering — and it’s my only complaint: It seems to end too soon, just as we’re sure the very best part is about to come. But that is not the game DelGaudio is playing here (which should surprise no one), so “Amoralman” has me both dazzled and slightly puzzled over its end result. There is utter brilliance within, though, there’s no doubt about that.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Jake

    Derek DelGaudio's In & Of Itself on Hulu, an ABSOLUTE MUST-SEE! https://www.hulu.com/movie/derek-delgaudios-in-of-itself-19b9d405-40b2-483e-8e1f-e25fe10c7299 {3.5 stars} I stumbled on the preorder to this book completely by chance after finishing the aforementioned film, and while I'm not sure anything can encapsulate the emotional, metaphysical resonance of watching it for the first time, AMORALMAN is a worthy extension of DelGaudio's consummate storytelling abilities displayed on the stage. In Derek DelGaudio's In & Of Itself on Hulu, an ABSOLUTE MUST-SEE! https://www.hulu.com/movie/derek-delgaudios-in-of-itself-19b9d405-40b2-483e-8e1f-e25fe10c7299 {3.5 stars} I stumbled on the preorder to this book completely by chance after finishing the aforementioned film, and while I'm not sure anything can encapsulate the emotional, metaphysical resonance of watching it for the first time, AMORALMAN is a worthy extension of DelGaudio's consummate storytelling abilities displayed on the stage. In both instances, the less you know before you watch/read the better; he makes it hard to leave anything he says up to the imagination, that is until he deliberately pulls the plug on everything you thought was the truth, which makes for a more rewarding, fully-rounded, and ultimately shattering experience. While I did think the second half of the book was more successful than the first, I would definitely recommend it to anyone looking for a surprise, because there isn't anything quite like his unraveling plot structures.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Sonja

    NPR was on the radio when I caught an interview with the author of this book and thought it sounded pretty interesting. Although I'm not a magic fanatic like my husband (he loves Penn & Teller) and my son-in-law (who attends magic conventions) are, his story had me hooked. This was really a fascinating book - a person who wanted to be honest and tell the truth getting into cheating at card games (poker) for a living. It was scary at times and one wondered just where this young man was headed sin NPR was on the radio when I caught an interview with the author of this book and thought it sounded pretty interesting. Although I'm not a magic fanatic like my husband (he loves Penn & Teller) and my son-in-law (who attends magic conventions) are, his story had me hooked. This was really a fascinating book - a person who wanted to be honest and tell the truth getting into cheating at card games (poker) for a living. It was scary at times and one wondered just where this young man was headed since what he wanted to be and where he was headed were in two different directions. Delgaudio is a very good story teller and I think he was smart in taking up some additional interests such as art and writing. He is probably still a very able magician but on a totally different path. Good luck to him. My computer tells me I read this book twice but I only read it once.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Caroline Ashby

    In 2021 I feel like one of the hardest things to find in the media I consume is novelty. Delgaudio's "In and Of Itself" ticked that box for me. I felt like I was seeing something totally new that I had never seen before. I think his one-man-show (which you can watch on Hulu) was more captivating to me than the contents of this book, but my familiarity with the show definitely kept me interested from beginning to end. I wish this book went further. But I suppose there's probably a lot more story In 2021 I feel like one of the hardest things to find in the media I consume is novelty. Delgaudio's "In and Of Itself" ticked that box for me. I felt like I was seeing something totally new that I had never seen before. I think his one-man-show (which you can watch on Hulu) was more captivating to me than the contents of this book, but my familiarity with the show definitely kept me interested from beginning to end. I wish this book went further. But I suppose there's probably a lot more story to tell and I doubt Delgaudio is finished writing about his life. So I'll read the next one. I like the way he weaves his story together, both in the book and in his show, and I think he does a great job of manipulating his readers/viewers and having us right where he wants us. I love being taken for a ride by someones storytelling.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Autumn Eden-Goodman

    When I saw In & Of Itself in New York, my friend and I spent hours discussing the show. I was completely mesmerized - so much so that we promptly bought tickets for another show later in the week. We sat in the front row and were completely mesmerized all over again. The performance was remarkable but the stories truly stuck with me. Reading this felt like getting a glimpse behind the curtain and once again I am mesmerized. Derek is an incredible storyteller I can feel myself preparing for a loo When I saw In & Of Itself in New York, my friend and I spent hours discussing the show. I was completely mesmerized - so much so that we promptly bought tickets for another show later in the week. We sat in the front row and were completely mesmerized all over again. The performance was remarkable but the stories truly stuck with me. Reading this felt like getting a glimpse behind the curtain and once again I am mesmerized. Derek is an incredible storyteller I can feel myself preparing for a loop of viewing In & Of Itself and then re-reading this book. I devoured this book in one day but I suspect it consumed me.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Ethan

    If you’ve seen In & of Itself you know the rough outline of this book. Derek Delgaudio tells the story of his childhood, how he got into magic, into slight of hand and eventually how he worked as a bust-out dealer for a crooked poker game. But like In & Of Itself the experience of the journey is more than just the synopsis. Delgaudio is a magnificent story teller and even more so a documentarian of the human experience, and even knowing some of the beats of the story doesn’t lesson its impacts. If you’ve seen In & of Itself you know the rough outline of this book. Derek Delgaudio tells the story of his childhood, how he got into magic, into slight of hand and eventually how he worked as a bust-out dealer for a crooked poker game. But like In & Of Itself the experience of the journey is more than just the synopsis. Delgaudio is a magnificent story teller and even more so a documentarian of the human experience, and even knowing some of the beats of the story doesn’t lesson its impacts. This is a great book and I can’t wait for the next experience Delgaudio unleashes upon us. He is a singular talent, no matter the medium and I’m in for whatever it is.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Zhuo Zhang

    This book blow me away!!! I never thought a person can be so candid about his past especially what he did is pure "cheating". The memoir is really well written and the frankness and sincerity have immersed the whole book, which is so eye-opening and thought-provoking that I feel that my jaw has dropped a couple times. His mentors were also very vividly described and I can feel the respect that the author pays to them. The original handwriting/drawing from the author's notebook is also a valuable This book blow me away!!! I never thought a person can be so candid about his past especially what he did is pure "cheating". The memoir is really well written and the frankness and sincerity have immersed the whole book, which is so eye-opening and thought-provoking that I feel that my jaw has dropped a couple times. His mentors were also very vividly described and I can feel the respect that the author pays to them. The original handwriting/drawing from the author's notebook is also a valuable addition to the book. I've finished the book in one sit on a rainy Sunday, and I cannot wait to re-read it.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Julie

    It's really not quite a memoir. It's essentially one long story from Delgaudio's life. And he is one tremendous story teller. I chose the audiobook because then is really is telling you the story. Just terrific. It's pretty short (five hours) and I found I finished it in two days. You just want to keep listening. There's also food for thought. If you do not know who he is, he's got a 90-minute program on Hulu called "In and Of Itself." It's a recording a live theater piece he did. Hard to descri It's really not quite a memoir. It's essentially one long story from Delgaudio's life. And he is one tremendous story teller. I chose the audiobook because then is really is telling you the story. Just terrific. It's pretty short (five hours) and I found I finished it in two days. You just want to keep listening. There's also food for thought. If you do not know who he is, he's got a 90-minute program on Hulu called "In and Of Itself." It's a recording a live theater piece he did. Hard to describe but I won't even try as I think it's better not to know. It's enough to know he is a magician, I think. But not your conventional magician.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Jeff

    AMORALMAN is a light and easy read, and while it does captivate as it illuminates the inner workings of a private poker game, it also left me wanting something a little deeper or more developed. I didn't really get much more out of it than I did listening to an interview that the author did on NPR. The documentary IN AND OF ITSELF, also by Derek Delgaudio, goes to more interesting places and it's great to see the sleight of hand card tricks. I can recommend this book for what it is and I enjoyed AMORALMAN is a light and easy read, and while it does captivate as it illuminates the inner workings of a private poker game, it also left me wanting something a little deeper or more developed. I didn't really get much more out of it than I did listening to an interview that the author did on NPR. The documentary IN AND OF ITSELF, also by Derek Delgaudio, goes to more interesting places and it's great to see the sleight of hand card tricks. I can recommend this book for what it is and I enjoyed breezing through it.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Matt Nichols

    This was a fun and lightweight read, thought provoking despite its easy presentation. It pairs well with the author's Hulu special "In & Of Itself", giving some fascinating background on how a masterful illusionist develops in the modern era. Most of the book was pretty tightly focused on a particular experience in Delgaudio's life (redacted for spoilers), but I'd love to have learned more about how this formative experience impacted his life as an artist. As it stands, that's an exercise left t This was a fun and lightweight read, thought provoking despite its easy presentation. It pairs well with the author's Hulu special "In & Of Itself", giving some fascinating background on how a masterful illusionist develops in the modern era. Most of the book was pretty tightly focused on a particular experience in Delgaudio's life (redacted for spoilers), but I'd love to have learned more about how this formative experience impacted his life as an artist. As it stands, that's an exercise left to the reader's imagination.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Nick

    I'm not sure how impactful this book will be for someone who isn't already familiar with Derek Delgaudio's work, but anyone who has seen 'In & Of Itself' (which I highly recommend) will probably enjoy this text that deals with many of the same themes. Delgaudio is a really interesting guy with a knack for telling stories both on stage and in writing. Hopefully his recent success will afford him more opportunities to do both. I'm not sure how impactful this book will be for someone who isn't already familiar with Derek Delgaudio's work, but anyone who has seen 'In & Of Itself' (which I highly recommend) will probably enjoy this text that deals with many of the same themes. Delgaudio is a really interesting guy with a knack for telling stories both on stage and in writing. Hopefully his recent success will afford him more opportunities to do both.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Jess

    Huge fan of In and Of Itself. This was a really great continuation of the truth claim broached in the show. Definitely missing some artistry (in terms of language and prose), and of course I wish the stories could be backed up by the actual dealings, instead of just descriptions. First ~50 or so pages felt pretty bland, but once I passed his childhood the stories really started picking up. The basic language ultimately did help with the “true story and other lies” element of the novel.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Andrea

    I enjoyed this book immensely. I recently watched a recording of Derek's Broadway show "In and Of Itself" on Hulu and was captivated. I have recommended watching this to family and friends alike. This book was a nice companion to the show and helped me understand some parts of the show more and what his formative years and "education" was like. I wish it had been longer, I would have loved to read more stories. I plan to watch the show again now. I enjoyed this book immensely. I recently watched a recording of Derek's Broadway show "In and Of Itself" on Hulu and was captivated. I have recommended watching this to family and friends alike. This book was a nice companion to the show and helped me understand some parts of the show more and what his formative years and "education" was like. I wish it had been longer, I would have loved to read more stories. I plan to watch the show again now.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Miguel

    Personal memoir regarding a strained childhood and turning to magic / card tricks that eventually takes the author into the world of illegal betting games in LA. I can see this being well received by card and/or gambling enthusiasts or just folks that like a pretty decent memoir, and the interplay with the rough and tumble crowd and the shady mentor is kind of interesting, but I just never really was drawn into it.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Natalie Park

    This memoir was fascinating as it’s about a world I know very little about - magic, sleight of hand and the world of illusion. What does it really mean to trick people? The author looks back on his life and how his love for magic took him to the world of dealing and poker tables and then to art, always mulling the intertwining philosophies of life and illusions. The author reads the book which makes it even more compelling.

  30. 5 out of 5

    xbrx

    Like everyone else, I loved In & Of Itself. I was slightly worried this would be the novelization of this but despite a few minor redundancies, this took on a life completely of its own. The main similarity is that in this book, not unlike his stage show, every detail matters more than you think. I devoured it in a couple of days and now like everyone else, I love Amoralman.

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