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Celebrations of Curious Characters

Ricky Jay David Mamet

112 pages
Mcsweeney's Literary Arts Fund

Celebrations of Curious Characters cracks open the personal vaults of Ricky Jay?raconteur, historian, and one of the world’s great sleight-of-hand artists?exposing a wonderful world of amusing and arcane knowledge. Adapted from his popular radio series ?Jay’s Journal of the Air,” Celebrations of Curious Characters features one-page anecdotes of mind-bending performers (limbless jugglers, banjo-picking birds, Anglo-Texan saxophone-playing siamese twins) paired with engravings, mezzotints, and broadsheets from the author’s remarkable collection. You’ll find engaging vignettes on a daunting variety of topics: musical prodigies, cannon-ball catchers, conmen, card cheats, and performing politicians. Plus, a man who made a model of Lincoln Cathedral out of 1,000,800 bottle corks; a woman continuously pregnant for six-and-a-half years; a theatrical strong man who became the world’s leading Egyptologist; and a healthy number of digressions on time, money, and the argot of thieves.

Author Bio

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.