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Ricky Jay

Celebrations of Curious Characters: Calculations


Ricky Jay is an actor, a historian, a magician and a collector. He is also a superb storyteller with a keen eye for the most gruesomely enchanting detail, and he delights in tales of the most delicious oddity. Limbless jugglers! Piano-playing parrots! Confessions and misconceptions and Jesus on a Tortilla! Celebrations of Curious Characters (published by McSweeney's) features highlights from the author’s remarkable collection, and is a thing of pure delight. Adapted from “Jay’s Journal of the Air” — a series of radio essays produced for KCRW in Santa Monica — this elegant volume (designed by Coco Shinomiya and the author) pairs a single image with each individual story. There are 45 stories in all.

Design Observer is pleased to share a selection of the original recordings — brought to you along with the image (
Jay calls this a "visual catalyst") that inspired its tale. This is the first of four installments. 

Image: Mezzotint of Jedediah Buxton, proof before text, by B. Killingbeck and J. Spilsbury [London: B. Killingbeck, 1781]. 
From the collection of Ricky Jay.


Posted in: Books, TV + Radio

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