“ Author: Derren Brown / Format: Paperback / Date of publication: 01 September 2011 / Autobiography: yes / Genre: Arts & Entertainment / Publisher: Transworld Publishers Ltd / Title: Confessions of a Conjuror / ISBN 13: 9781905026593 / ISBN 10: 1905026593 „
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===Confessions of a fan boy===
I'm not usually a celebrity obsessed type. In fact, I'm never celebrity obsessed. It really takes a lot for someone to hold my interest. Maybe I'm just too self obsessed to care about what some stranger is wearing this week or what they had for breakfast. I hardly care what I'm wearing this week and my breakfast tends to be porridge which I can tell you I don't really get that excited over. There is, however, one celebrity type who does manage to hold my interest. So, ok, I still don't want to know what he's wearing or eating even though he sometimes does update his Facebook page with such interesting facts. Derren Brown manages to fascinate me in a way that most others simply can't. First of all, he's occasionally a bit of alright (if you look past the cravats and occasionally dodgy facial hair). Secondly he's always managed to come across as a completely normal if not slightly excitable and eccentric gentleman while also managing to pull off some absolutely baffling stunts and tricks. Throughout all his trickery, he's always been quite honest about his methods and that honesty has drawn me right in. I'm a huge fan.
Derren Brown rose to fame when Channel 4 picked him up for a show in 2000 called Derren Brown: Mind Control where he basically duped the British public with a bunch of brilliantly executed mind reading tricks and various other wonderful takes on magic. Since then he has had 2 further T.V shows (Tricks of the Mind and Trick or Treat) as well as fourteen special one off shows, some of which are recordings of his live shows that he tours on. On top of those he's also had a couple of mini documentary style series (Derren brown Investigates and The Experiments) which get better and better. The man has made people believe they have committed murder and that zombie apocalypse has come. Usually you can tell the amount of hard work and planning that has went into everything the man does.
If you haven't ever heard of Derren Brown or watched any of his shows, I implore you, do it. A lot of people are put off by the branding of "magician" or "psychic" that tends to float around him, though I would straight away cry that he isn't really a magician at all. Yes, he deals with trickery but he goes much deeper than that. His lighter shows are fantastic to watch for the sheer element of sneakiness and he can perform magic tricks but his deeper darker shows tend to delve into human nature in ways that just haven't been explored by other shows out there. It's intellectual, gripping, shocking and incredibly fun all at the same time. Even when he is doing a simple magic trick he involves the punters ten times more than anyone else I've ever seen do magic. I'm still trying to convince my partner to watch anything of his, but he refuses. I will get my way one day.
===What is this book about?===
Derren's previous book (Tricks of the mind) was a mix of an autobiography and a discussion of how he does his tricks. It was fascinating to read about his admittedly quite dull life and inner workings as it was to read about his methods. In fact I'd say that I enjoyed the personal bits of the book a little more than the methodology. This book is almost pure autobiography. Reading the book is like a very comfortable conversation with a friend after a couple of drinks. Brown uses the story of a trick he performed in a pub in his early days to structure the book and basically rambles from there. Something about one of the punters or his surroundings will remind him of something from his childhood which will remind him of something else and so on and so forth. Occasionally he'll reign himself back to the progress of the trick which adds an element of wanting to see what happens. Mostly, however, the conversational style simply allows you to lose yourself in the wanderings of Browns mind.
Some parts are interesting when he discusses the first tricks he would save up for as a child, others are disgusting like when he talks at length about bogies. Others are downright hilarious and some moments make you want to hit him for being so smug but he always manages to get across that he's being smug with a cheeky grin on his face. He's always self deprecating especially when referring to his sexuality and the debacle around The Sun "outing" him.
===Things I didn't like===
There was only one thing that occasionally got on my nerves about this book. As Derren talks he occasionally feels the need to put in an explanation for something he's said or just the need to go off on a tangent about it. He'll mark these sections with a star (*) or a cross + and you'll see that the page is divided into two sections, one in smaller print to house his explanation/ tangent and the normal story. I don't mind the random tangents and explanations at all but what niggled me is that sometimes the explanation or tangent went on for a few pages which meant you had to keep your finger in the book at the page where you'd left the main story while you read the add-on which sometimes spanned four or five other pages and then flip back to where you were. If you were just dipping into the book it almost forces you to finish the section before you put it down so you don't lose your place. Thankfully I have a magnetic marker with two halves so any time I needed or wanted to stop in these situations I'd effectively section off the pages from where I was in the main story to where I was in the add-on section. It's a bit of a pain, but nothing too terrible.
===See you next Tuesday===
One thing I will say, if you have a weak stomach or can't handle someone swearing then you probably won't want to pick up this book. Brown doesn't swear every second word but he does do it occasionally. Personally I love swearing so I don't mind. Others may find his sense of humour a little odd; that just makes me enjoy it even more. Swearing and a weird sense of humour sounds like most people I know!
Online you can pick this up for £5.59 currently and that's for a brand new paperback version. Amazon also have a few copies used for 61p plus postage with the Kindle edition coming in slightly cheaper than a brand new one at £5.22. I'm not a kindle-ite in the slightest so I was quite happy with the price of this one.
As I mentioned, I'm a huge fan of Brown. I've been waiting for ages to read this book and I whizzed through it when I did. It's a really comfortable read and it doesn't feel like you are perving on him in the slightest like some biographies and autobiographies do. I'd still like to know a bit more about his personal life and it'd certainly be interesting to see his story laid out from start to present as I do feel like this book only scratches the surface of the man. All in, I'll be giving it four stars out of five for a very enjoyable read, only losing one star for the weird layout at parts.
Whenever you buy a book about magic or mind control, the same thought goes through your mind. That thought is ultimately "I WANT TO KNOW HOW TO DO THAT".
The knowledge that, after reading what you have convinced yourself is a 'guide-map' into the human psyche, you will be able to control your friends, amaze strangers and discover what people really think about you drives you to the checkout counter.
However, as your common sense will tell you, reading one book will not make you a fucking wizard.
This misconception is in no way a reflection on Derren Brown or 'Confessions of a Conjuror'. This book is brilliantly interesting! A detailed look into how one of the most fascinating people of the 21st century views the world around him. By using witty anecdotes and hypothetical scenarios, he walks us through the complex interactions that make up human behavoir, showing us just a glimpse of his genius, but just enough to leave us begging for more.