Synopses & Reviews
A dazzling tour through the world of singular entertainers, con men, and unusual phenomena.For the past four years, the multitalented Ricky Jay (sleight-of-hand artist, author, actor, film consultant, and scholar of the unusual) has published a unique and beautifully designed quarterly called Jay's Journal of Anomalies. Already a coveted collector's item, the complete set is gathered here for the first time. A brilliant excursion into the history of bizarre entertainments, the journal covered such subjects as dogs stealing acts from other dogs, an anthropological hoax involving the only survivors of a caste of ancient Aztec priests, and the ultimate diet: ingesting only air.In a delectably deadpan and winning style, Jay conveys his admiration and affection for the offbeat that characterized his bestselling Learned Pigs and Fireproof Women. He explains how wags since the sixteenth century have cheated at bowling; he explores the ancient relationship between conjuring and dentistry; and he chronicles the exploits of ceiling walkers and human flies. Crammed full of illustrations drawn from the author's massive personal archive, Jay's Journal of Anomalies will baffle, instruct, and, above all, delight.
"A certain breed of pompous intellectual would have us believe that before the advent of television people occupied their minds with reading books, but if this collection of the 16 issues of Ricky Jay's legendary quarterly is anything to judge by, the truth is not so lofty. Instead, the bored populace squandered their pennies on a variety of dubious spectacles: learned dogs (who could multiply numbers and tell time), lilliputian 'Aztec' children (actually microencephalic mulattos), self-crucifiers, ceiling dancers, flea circuses and such 'newly discovered' animals as the fearsome 'bonassus' (a buffalo, despite claims to the contrary). Much of the pleasure to be found in this browsable volume comes from the grandiose rhetoric promoting such performers as 'L'Inimitable Dick,' a small black poodle dressed in gauze skirts that could be made to "waft gracefully" by wires, who danced on his hind legs while colored lights played over the gauze. Jay documents all of this with an elaborate, ironic elegance that adds tremendously to the fun." Laura Miller, Salon.com
About the Author
Ricky Jay is the author of Learned Pigs and Fireproof Women. His one-man show, Ricky Jay & His 52 Assistants, was a critical and popular success. He has appeared in the films House of Games, The Spanish Prisoner, Boogie Nights, and Magnolia.