The magic shop
I read an essay a few years ago by some guy who'd studied the childhoods of people who grew up to be what he called creative social misfits -- ranging from artists both professional and private/outsider to criminals who approach crime in an aesthetic or inventive way -- the Zodiac killer, the Unabomber, Jeffrey Dahmer, Charles Manson were among his examples -- and he found that with rare exceptions they shared an unusually strong childhood fascination with magic tricks, novelty gifts, and the stores that featured them. Certainly for me, being among a vast array of normal looking things that, with some cash and a mastering of their instructions, could be transformed into sources of inexplicable wonder was the most electrifying sensation possible, and that feeling does correspond to the more pragmatic thrill I get when working on a novel. But the intensity of the magic shop rush was never quite equalled, although, having been a teenager in the pre-internet days, the first few times I got my courage up to go into a porn shop, I remember a similar feeling that I was in a place where a dizzying number of doors into a new, secret, unimaginably exciting world could be opened with a crack of my wallet. I got to wondering whether the kinds of magic shops I loved so much as a kid still exist, and, with a lengthy internet search, I realized they do in pretty much the exact same form they had when I was a child albeit with the addition of related websites. I also wondered if you creative people out there share my lost adoration of those once transcendent seeming places. If so, or even if not, here are twenty magic shops and links for you to investigate today.