Bio & Forthcoming

Master of Deception - John-Ivan Palmer

2020 INDIES Book of the Year Award Finalist. MASTER OF DECEPTION, long awaited memoir on growing up in the dark and closed world of 1950s floor show culture, is now available in bookstores worldwide. (Depicted on the cover is the author’s father, Jack Pyle.)

“Wonderfully entertaining and well-written....what a story he tells.” 
— Mary Ann Grossman, St. Paul Pioneer Press “Writing with the voice of experience, Palmer lifts the tacky curtain on a world gone away. Tawdry but exciting.” — David Luhrssen, Shepherd Express “A real eye opener. Information you cannot find in many biographies. Touching, utterly interesting, highly recommended!” — Marco Pusterla, Ye Old Magic Magazine (UK)

“A trip into a world few of us know or understand.” — Spectrum West, Wisconsin Public Radio

“Check out this book!” — Scott Wells, The Magic Word Podcast “Fiercely observed and intensely uncanny insider’s story of life among outsiders.
— Thomas Burchfield, Curious Magazine

Partial list of independent bookstores carrying MASTER OF DECEPTION: Magers & Quinn, Half Price Books, Paperback Exchange, The Irreverent Bookworm, Moon Palace Books, Sub Text Books, Author’s Bookstore (MSP Airport), Red Balloon Bookshop, St Catherine Bookstore, Milkweed Books. To locate an independent bookstore near you:

John-Ivan Palmer, the son of a nightclub magician and Croatian actress,  grew up in trailer parks and dressing rooms. He taught himself to read and write, forward and backward with either hand, in the back seat of the car en route to his parents’ many engagements. Although he technically never graduated from the first grade he later attended three universities, but did not graduate from any of them either.

On the West Coast, while carrying on his father’s profession, he published journalistic work in the San Francisco ChronicleSan Francisco ExaminerMilwaukee Journal and Oregon Journal. Literary magazines (The SmithDecember, NewsArt, Wisconsin Review, Other Voices) published his fiction. As with his schooling, he composed his writing in dressing rooms and hotel lobbies. After receiving the Pushcart Prize for fiction, his  essays and literary criticism were widely published and anthologized in the US, Britain, Israel and Japan.

Given his background, the author’s work deals with unorthodox narratives, yet in a disciplined, belletristic style.  Tom Bradley’s irreverent interview with Palmer in Exquisite Corpse, A Journal of Art and Life ( the author as an “odd and versatile figure in the literary world.”

Also Recently published:

“Listen to Me! Words and the Amplified Voice,” an essay on the history of speaking to large crowds without a microphone. Whistling Shade Literary Journal, Summer 2020 ( “How did Abraham Lincoln deliver the Gettysburg Address to 20,000 people using only the wind that came out of his body?”

Two poems “Massage Parlor Honeymoon” and “Face Focus Burn Hole” were written during the author’s period as a night club hypnotist. Issue 9, 2020, of Modern Poetry Quarterly Review (

“Kissing in Church” is a short story in the spring 2018 issue of Literary Nest ( An ex-nun and a hack writer share their chaste divinities in empty churches.

“Dragged Around by the Great Maurice,” is a study in X-rated stage hypnotism that appears in Hypnopomp Literary Journal, issue 4, 2018 ( Included in Reflections on the Nature of Staged Influence (unpublished).

Dining With the Breatharians,” essay on those who profit by convincing others they can thrive on a diet consisting solely of air. Illustrated. Whistling Shade, spring, 2018 (

“The Reptilian,” is a work of fiction included in the British anthology The Whisper Place published by, 2018. Available in print only at