This is one of the strangest books I've ever read, and believe me - I've read some strange books.
What this book isn't:
- An autobiography, although much of it is supposedly autobiographical.
- A book about magic, although magic appears in it.
- A "how I do my tricks" book, like his "Tricks Of The Mind" book.
- A TV tie-in.
So what exactly is it? Well, each chapter uses Derren's performance of a card trick as its opening, and then things kind of wander off in other directions, almost like somebody telling you a story and then heading off on tangents, eventually returning to the central strand before veering off once more. It's an amiable ramble, a bit waffly if I'm honest, and full of footnotes, graphs and line drawings to expand upon points mentioned, but by the end I was still confused, wondering what exactly I'd read as I didn't know much more about the man, his work, magic... or anything really, apart from his thoughts on "Monster Munch" crisps, mushrooms, and poached eggs (seriously). In a way it would be a bit like seeing a magician do a trick where he says "pick a card, look at it, don't tell me what it is, and put it back in the deck," before he shuffles the cards, burns the deck, places a glass sculpture of an elephant in front of you and says "I'll let you think about that one," before wandering off. It's enjoyable, but deeply mystifying, and I can't help but wonder if, should I read it again, it would all suddenly click into place and somehow it would all make sense.
Confused? You will be. I enjoyed reading this, despite how confused it left me, but if you want a straight autobiography or a book about what Derren does, or magic in general, you'll be disappointed. Should you be looking for a book on Derren's act you should look at "Tricks of the Mind", and those who want an autobiography should maybe wait until something else comes along, but for now this is a wonderfully entertaining read where there is maybe more than meets the eye.
Recommended, but maybe wait until the paperback if you're uncertain.