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Monday, March 23, 2015

Review: Confessions of a Conjuror

Posted by Charlene // Tags: , , ,
Confessions of a Conjuror
by Derren Brown
Autobiography
Amazon  /  Goodreads

Plot Summary:


The inside of Derren Brown's head is a strange and mysterious place. Now you can climb inside and wander around. Find out just how Derren's mind works, see what motivates him and discover what made him the weird and wonderful person he is today.

Obsessed with magic and illusions since childhood, Derren's life to date has been an extraordinary journey and here, in Confessions of a Conjuror, he allows us all to join him on a magical mystery tour - to the centre of his brain... Taking as his starting point the various stages of a conjuring trick he's performing in a crowded restaurant, Derren's endlessly engaging narrative wanders through subjects from all points of the compass, from the history of magic and the fundamentals of psychology to the joys of internet shopping and the proper use of Parmesan cheese.

Brilliant, hilarious and entirely unlike anything else you have ever read before, Confessions of a Conjuror is a complete and utter joy.

Review:

Derren Brown is one of my favorite people, so of course I highly enjoyed this book - it is actually one of my favorites.  What's so great about this book is the way it's constructed because it is not a conventional kind of autobiography.  Derren Brown performs magnificent mental tricks and illusions, so he's very aware of himself and very self-analytical in the way he tells his story.  I found that aspect to be very relatable, and I think others who identify with being socially awkward, introspective and curious can also relate to his story.  The way he illuminates his own psyche with examples, and the thought processes of why some people can act a certain way, gives the reader the tools to try and understand their own quirks.  This book is a strange balance of personal stories, psychology, history, humor, and minutia.  Derren's way of interweaving his philosophical thoughts with, let's say, his nervous tics, his petty shoplifting as a child, his method of cooking the perfect eggs benedict, his list of perfect books to read while on the toilet and his interest in art and music is fascinating to me and especially enjoyable because he expresses himself with such humor and self-deprecation.

To further separate this story from traditional memoirs, Derren frames the whole of his narrative by describing a performance of one of his card tricks to a group of strangers.  In the way he describes what's going on in his mind at each step as he performs it, he digresses into many different threads of thought which gives the background of his experiences growing up, his interest in magic, and the way his mind thinks.  After reading this book, I get such a sense of understanding - not just of what kind of person Derren Brown is, but also of his joy of life which is what I usually feel whenever I see one of Derren's more inspiring television performances.  That and a sense of awe.

I think this is a book that all fans of Derren Brown will enjoy, but there is an added level of thought-provoking self-analysis that could appeal to any reader unfamiliar with Derren's work.  I highly recommend the audiobook as well which is read by the author, although there are a few footnote digressions in the book that don't make it to the audio.

*This review also introduces my new rating for books I feel deserve more than 5 stars!  These will be for books that are my favorites.

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