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‘Wherein the Collector Puts His Passions on Display’

Martin McClellan, writing for The Seattle Review of Books back in 2016:

But here is the heart of it: his collection is what allowed Mr. Jay his unique take on magic and entertaining. With such a library, Mr. Jay is able to fully articulate Nabokov’s rules for good readers, that one should have an imagination, a memory, a dictionary, and some artistic sense. So, given his library, and having then the imagination to read well, the memory to recall his topics, a dictionary (and thesaurus, as anybody who has witnessed his patter or writing can attest), and the artistic sense to take these disparate historical inputs and spin them into stage shows that both marveled with their sublime skill and craft, and also startled for their stylistic lack of embarrassing modern magical pretense (although, certainly, on occasion, with a subtle wink, embracing a sort of Mellvillian riverboat conman affectation, the hallmark of the street performer’s garb, bridging the society they keep, from the society they bilk), it is no surprise that Mr. Jay achieved the heights of performing arts that he did. He proofed the theorem; should our society collapse, Mr. Jay will always have a profession, and that would be the exchange of coins (us) for providing wonders (him). And no doubt, his off-hours would be spent recording his memories and knowledge into books for the future Ricky Jays to find.

Monday, 18 February 2019