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Book review: 'Celebrations of Curious Characters' by Ricky Jay
Book review: 'Celebrations of Curious Characters' by Ricky Jay

To say that Ricky Jay does card tricks is, as Mark Singer once noted in the New Yorker, somewhat akin to suggesting that "Sonny Rollins plays tenor saxophone." Jay is one of the greatest sleight-of-hand artists ever to fool and wow an audience. A few years back, at a theater in Westwood, I saw him quote a ballad by the French poet/thief François Villon, as translated by Dante Gabriel Rossetti, while simultaneously performing the famous party piece of his stage act, piercing the skin of a watermelon, or, as Jay puts it, the "thicker pachydermatous outer-melon layer," with a single playing card flicked at 90 mph from between his fingers. But Jay is not only a...