Celebrations of Curious Characters ($25) cracks open the personal vaults of Ricky Jay—raconteur, historian, and legendary sleight-of-hand artist—exposing a wonderful world of amusing and arcane knowledge. Adapted from his popular NPR series “Jay’s Journal,” Celebrations of Curious Characters features one-page anecdotes of mind-bending performers (limbless jugglers, piano-playing parrots, unkempt Londoners) paired with engravings, mezzotints, and broadsheets from the author’s remarkable collection.
This large, 112 page full-color book published by McSweeney’s comes with forty-five essays, each accompanied by artifacts from Mr. Jay’s storied archives. Designed specifically for four-minute perusing bursts, it will mesmerize grizzled magicians and casual onlookers alike.
Acknowledged as one of the world’s great sleight-of-hand artists, Ricky Jay has received accolades as a performer, actor, and author. His heralded one-man shows Ricky Jay & His 52 Assistants; Ricky Jay: On the Stem; and Ricky Jay: A Rogue’s Gallery were all directed by David Mamet. As an actor Mr. Jay has been seen in many films, including House of Games, Things Change, Heist, Red Belt, Boogie Nights, Magnolia, Last Days, The Prestige, The Great Buck Howard, and Tomorrow Never Dies. He appeared regularly in the television series Deadwood, The Unit, and Flash Forward and has written and hosted his own specials for CBS, HBO, A&E, and the BBC. His consulting company, Deceptive Practices (with partner Michael Weber), has supplied “Arcane Knowledge on a Need to Know Basis” for theater, television, and more than a score of films, including Forrest Gump, The Illusionist, and Oceans 13. He is the former curator of the Mulholland Library of Conjuring and the Allied Arts and has defined the terms of his profession for the Encyclopedia Britannica and the Cambridge Guide to American Theater. More information is available at rickyjay.com.