From Publishers Weekly
This oversize, richly illustrated and well-annotated book could emerge from none other than Jay—showman, card shark, actor, curator and wondrously quirky cultural presence. The author of Learned Pigs & Fireproof Women
likes to collect showbills, those exuberant advertisements for singular, often questionable entertainers, and the ones presented here—in Italian, French, German and English—vividly depict the sideshow mentalitywith idiosyncratic graphics and "florid, orotund language." The collection parallels Jay's interest in both deception and unusual acts, beginning with the "Learned Horse" in Milan, circa 1618, which collected money and fetched wine, and ending with Cinquevalli, "King of the Jugglers," who dazzled 1898 Birkenhead, England, with his skill manipulating cannonballs and pool balls. In between,readers meet "the greatest German living," a 29-inch wonder; the equestrian apiarist who wore a "bee blindfold"; the now-notorious "Hottentot Venus"; the "giant Hungarian schoolboy" and many others. Jay's collection was first exhibited at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts in San Francisco. As the center's chief curator says, the pieces stand up both as "historically worthy art and little time bombs of insight." Oh, and that Whimsiphusicon? It's a "theatrical neologism used to entice, or more likely confuse, the public." Indeed. (July)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
About the Author
Ricky Jay is one of the world's great sleight-of-hand artists and an expert on the world of fantastic entertainment. His award-winning one-man shows were directed by David Mamet, in whose many films Mr. Jay has appeared. He is author of New York Times Notable Books Learned Pigs & Fireproof Women, Jay's Journal of Anomalies, Extraordinary Exhibitions, and Dice: Deception, Fate & Rotten Luck with Rosamond Purcell. He lives in Los Angeles.