Learned Pigs & Fireproof Women
|Publisher||Villard Books; Farrar, Straus and Giroux|
Learned Pigs & Fireproof Women is a book written by stage magician, actor and writer Ricky Jay. Divided into numerous themed chapters, the book provides the bizarre histories of some of the world's most eccentric entertainers, ranging from mind readers and daredevils to animal handlers and stone eaters. Jay presents all of his subjects within their historical contexts and provides numerous illustrations and posters alongside his text.
Some examples of the entertainers included in Jay's book:
- The learned pig of the title, a pig that could spell, calculate and read minds.
- Joseph Pujol, also known as Le Petomane, the master flatulist.
- Max Malini, the illusionist famous for his audacity and his tricks involving unsuspecting celebrities.
- Leon Rauch, also known as LaRoche, the Sisyphus of the circus world.
- Ivan Ivanitz Chabert, the "Human Salamander" and "Really Incombustible Phenomenon".
A television special of the same name was created based on Jay's book in 1989. The show featured a variety of magic tricks, stunts and performances, such as a musical performance on wine glasses and an antique acrobatic clockwork doll.
The title of the book was considered irresistibly tempting by Richard Goodman, who cited it as an example in his work on creative writing.
In the 1999 film Magnolia, starring Tom Cruise, a boy is reading in the library, and the book is seen amongst the volumes the boy has chosen to read. Jay himself appears in the movie, in a supporting role.
- Kakutani, Michiko (28 August 2001). "Books of the Times; A Tragic Touch in Oddities, Tricks and Hoaxes". The New York Times: 8.
- Jay, Ricky (1989). "Learned Pigs & Fireproof Women". Retrieved 3 October 2010.
- Richard Goodman (2009), The Soul of Creative Writing, p. 78, ISBN 978-1-4128-1051-7
- Gross, John (14 November 1986). "Books of the Times". The New York Times.
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