Bio & Forthcoming

Master of Deception - John-Ivan PalmerMASTER OF DECEPTION, long awaited memoir on growing up in the dark and closed world of 1950s floor show culture, available in bookstores worldwide August 11, 2020. Depicted on the cover is the author’s father, Jack Pyle.

PREORDER AT: All preorders signed by author.

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:

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

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 Chronicle, San Francisco Examiner, Milwaukee Journal and Oregon Journal. Literary magazines (The Smith, December, 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 ( describes the author as an “odd and versatile figure in the literary world.”

Recently published:

“Magnetic Reality: Setting the Stage of Mass Murder in School,” Vector Magazine, 2017 ( Included is the author’s appearance at Red Lake Indian Reservation High School where he briefly met Jeff Weise, who later murdered nine people at the same school.

“The Forgotten One” is a memoir of the author’s millionaire grandfather who disappeared for many years and was eventually found. It appeared in the summer 2017 issue of the Israeli journal Ilanot Review ( Nominated for the Best on the Net Award for 2017 and included in Master of Deception, due out by Rare Bird Books in August, 2020.

“The Real Live Scandinavian Folk Dancer: Teddy Qualls, Lost Freak From the Heart of Darkness,” describes the life of a forgotten African-American tap dancer “who could suck the air out of a whole town” but knew “he’d better be gone by morning.” It’s featured in the winter 2017 issue of Whistling Shade ( Included in Master of Deception, due out by Rare Bird Books in August, 2020.

“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

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 (