Sunday, 9 November 2014

Confessions of a Conjuror by Derren Brown

Confessions of a Conjuror by Derren Brown

I really loved this although it is a very unusual autobiography.  The whole book spans the performance of one card trick to three customers in a swanky restaurant which happened very early in Brown's career.  As Brown describes the trick, and the response to each element of it from his clients (or participants), he wanders off into reminiscences of his childhood or describes in details some minutae of his life now.  Occasionally there is too much information, for example on some of his bathroom habits (!) however it is a fascinating insight into Brown as a person and his understanding of human nature.

I quite enjoy Deren Brown's 'magic' shows but I am much more fascinated by his psychology experiments and although this book ostensibly deals with magic it also explores that side of his work.  I particularly like how he thoroughly debunks spiritualism, clairvoyancy and mediums, etc and I like his attitude towards religion and atheism.

This book is occasionally a little pretentious and Brown's vocabulary deliberately ostentatious - a bit like him.  I actually found his use of over-blown language made the book a rich and satisfying experience and it was short enough not to be too much.  He is clearly well-off and doesn't mind name-dropping or mentioning how much money he has spent on things - but at the same time he is self-mocking and aware of his own affectations.

Amongst the ephemera there were some gems of advice, the best one being that if you truly want to be successful and 'win friends and influence people' then just be kind.

A great Sunday afternoon read.

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