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Celebrations of Curious Characters Hardcover – May 24, 2011

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Celebrations of Curious Characters + Jay's Journal of Anomalies + Dice: Deception, Fate, and Rotten Luck
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 112 pages
  • Publisher: McSweeney's; First Edition edition (May 24, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1936365030
  • ISBN-13: 978-1936365036
  • Product Dimensions: 9.8 x 9.2 x 0.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.5 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #373,819 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

About the Author

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

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

27 of 27 people found the following review helpful By Bradley Bevers TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on May 12, 2011
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I have been a fan of Ricky Jay's work for a long time. He may be the most talented living close-up magician, but he is also the preeminent collector of all things odd and unusual. Every one of his books is a treat to read, no matter your interest in the subject matter. I pre-ordered this work as soon as it was available and have not been disappointed.

There are few authors who care about their work as much as Jay. Every word is carefully selected, each picture is one of a kind, and even the design of the book is top notch. It's the type of book that you will want to display on a table rather than hide on a shelf. It's the perfect size for the subject matter and, thankfully, this is the kind of book that is so well done that it will never work as an ebook.

Each chapter consists of one page of text and one full page print. Each picture is both interesting and beautiful. In fact, you may want to get two copies just so you can frame a few of the pictures from the book. Some of my favorite chapters include:

Tossing The Broads - Jay's thoughts on the 3 card monte

Twins - A Celebration of Siamese Twins (the print accompanying this chapter is one of the very best - twins sharing a mustache)

Coffee - A History of the first Coffee Shops/Museums of the Unusual

Taking It on The Chin - The Story of the best "musical face player"

Misconception - Women who have given birth to animals

Shot From A Cannon - The first woman to be shot from a cannon (one of my favorite prints)

Death By Misadventure - The story of Chung Ling Soo

There is not a clunker in the entire book. Each short essay and every picture are nearly perfect; in short, this is a collection not to be missed. Whether you are fascinated with the unusual, curious about the odd, or just a lover of books, this is a must.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By R. Hardy HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWER on July 12, 2011
Format: Hardcover
I would put Ricky Jay high on my list of people I would like to invite to tea. I would not want him to perform his card tricks for me; I have seen some of his slight-of-hand and there is no one who does it better, but I would be embarrassed to ask him to perform. I would certainly not want him to start throwing cards in our house, as he can do so at 90 mph and penetrate, for instance, the rind of a watermelon. I would not want to steer the conversation to his many roles in Hollywood movies, or his advice given to moviemakers about visual illusions. I would, however, like him to tell us about his own enthusiasms for collecting magic ephemera and strange books, and I would certainly want him to talk about the sorts of peculiar people and performers that he has, with easy scholarship, profiled in such books as _Learned Pigs and Fireproof Women_ or _Jay's Journal of Anomalies_. He isn't going to be doing that in our parlor, I guess, but he did talk about such things for an NPR station in Los Angeles some time ago, doing a series of four minute spots to talk about human and animal oddities, drawing on his vast collection of memorabilia. These talks have now been gathered and illustrated from items in his collection, and published in a handsome format by McSweeney's Books as _Celebrations of Curious Characters_. The four-minute format yields one page of prose, faced by one full page illustration, for forty-five entertaining and very peculiar episodes. Perhaps because of the radio format, too, he has in some asides made some remarks about himself that are revealing, and made me want to have tea with him all the more.

It is hard to review this funny and enlightening book except to list some of its contents. Jay's prose is witty and his selection of subjects is delightful and surprising.
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By Allan Gordon on September 27, 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I gave it as a gift to a fellow Ricky Jay fan. He loved it.I would recommend it to anyone who is a fan of Ricky
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