Ricky Jay knows his dice. A sleight-of-hand-performer who is appearing on Broadway in On the Stem, a one-man show directed by David Mamet (in whose movies Jay has appeared frequently), Jay here presents a light, digressive history of dice, from "astragali" (or "heel bones," as mentioned in an Indian epic poem) to how they are loaded for cheating. Dipping into everything from Viking allegory to the 1820 writings of the Rev. Charles Caleb Colton (an eventual ruined gambler and suicide), Jay's anecdotes are colorful but meandering: a description of a 1501 Florentine gambler named Antonio Rinaldeschi eases into a recollection of the outcry at the Brooklyn Museum over Chris Ofili's dung-festooned Holy Virgin Mary. Chapters such as "Dice and Death" and "The Palengenesis of Craps" are complemented by Rosamond Wolff Purcell's 13 color photographs of beautifully decayed dice (when dice age, they can be chipped and crusted, appearing to be made of salt or ice). These portraits of chance's end reveal visually what Jay tells us verbally: dice are as inherently complex and frail as people.
Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc.
"Jay's writing is exactly what one would expect from the extremely erudite, witty and decent author of Learned Pigs & Fireproof Women and Jay's Journal of Anomalies. There is an explanation of the etymology of "craps, " and there are various tales of armless dicers, ingenious hustlers, and Scandinavian kings of the Middle Ages who diced for islands. Dice turn out to be rich subjects for Purcell's photography. She presents them as, in a way, monumental ruins on a Stonehenge-type of scale relative to the book. Their forms are enriched by their disintegration and are bathed in light that their varying translucence seems to contain for a moment before releasing it to the lens ... The book itself is, like a die, a modest object, small for a book of photography and, with a short text, casually organized."See all Editorial Reviews
Although brief, this is a very thorough treatment of the history of dice. The photos of decaying dice are very colorful and fascinatingPublished 5 months ago by Jordan Reiter
Not what I expected, but if you are into decaying dice, you'll like the photos.Published 6 months ago by Terri
A beautiful photography book artfully displaying master magician Ricky Jay's unique dice collection. Jay provides sparse but intriguing tidbits about dice history and culture.Published on June 8, 2013 by mormovies
Another Ricky Jay book. Content is interesting & written in a very entertaining manner by a very fasinating magic man.Published on March 8, 2013 by Lynne Beckett
Ricky Jay once again finds an odd way to make an unexpected topic fascinating. His sense of humor adds to his expertise in the matter, with exquisite photos taken of otherwise... Read morePublished on May 26, 2011 by Aaron "Smokey" Arnold
this product was fairly priced, delivered when promised, and recieved as described.
just about perfectly
I couldn't disagree more with the first customer review. Rosamond Purcell's photographs of dice in various states of decay are lush and lyrical--all on their own, they are well... Read morePublished on November 29, 2007 by Pippin
Dice: Deception, Fate & Rotten Luck
What an abject waste of time and twelve or so bucks! The book is a few paragraphs of information on the history of using "false"... Read more