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106 Reviews
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70 of 72 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Not for everyone
I love this book as I have long been a fan of Derren Brown, and I'm very interested in the way he thinks.This book is entirely comprised of descriptions of his thought processes, insecurities and childhood memories, providing a very personal insight into his life.

Yes, as many negative reviewerss have pointed out, Derren tends to ramble on somewhat, making use...
Published on 3 Dec 2010 by Dan

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37 of 40 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A frivolous whimsical Christmas haymaker
This book is very hard to describe. It reads like Derren sat down at his laptop and just went off on one. Derren's stories (I suppose I should say whimsies as the word "whimsy" appears on nearly every page it seems) are woven together by one card trick that is taking place in a Bristol restaurant. This trick comes to its finale on the last page of the book...
Published on 19 Nov 2010 by Terrence Hag


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70 of 72 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Not for everyone, 3 Dec 2010
By 
Dan (Sheffield, United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
I love this book as I have long been a fan of Derren Brown, and I'm very interested in the way he thinks.This book is entirely comprised of descriptions of his thought processes, insecurities and childhood memories, providing a very personal insight into his life.

Yes, as many negative reviewerss have pointed out, Derren tends to ramble on somewhat, making use of sometimes overlapping multiple-page footnotes, in which he will often go off at several tangents, necessitating a backwards traversal through both pages and thought processes, to find the place at which he left off. But rather than seeming unstructured, I think that this is part of the books charm and appeal.

And yes, Derren uses long words, but again I can't see how that is a negative, unless your vocabulary is somewhat below average. I for one find it refreshing to read a book by a 'celebrity' who has a good command of the English language and isn't afraid to use it. If you find that frustrating, perhaps something like Chris Moyles' autobiography would be more appealing.

If you like Derren's TV shows, but aren't particularly interested in the man himself, or magic/conjuring in general, then you may not get much enjoyment from this book. But if like me, you are fascinated by what goes on in the mind of such a person, then I think you'll find it an enjoyable and interesting read.
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars I liked it, but I don't know why..., 9 Jan 2011
By 
Peter Lee (Manchester ,United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (TOP 1000 REVIEWER)    (REAL NAME)   
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.
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69 of 73 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A nice man, 25 Oct 2010
As befits an illusionist, Derren Brown is himself somewhat of an enigma. He obviously has a very quick mind, and an excellent grasp of human behaviour and how to manipulate it. As a performer, he offers his audiences an entertaining and potentially transformative experience without, apparently, exploiting anyone. A nice, self-assured man. However, the picture he paints here is of someone rather ill at ease with himself, subject (at least in the past) to compulsions ranging from the incovenient to the downright dangerous, and over-anxious to please. These are truly 'Confessions' (I wonder what other C word he considered before settling on 'Conjuror') and the degree of self-loathing he describes is surprising in a celebrity autobiography.

Not sure why, but I am reminded of Derren Brown's piece on 'Barnum statements' that seem very personal but apply to almost everyone. I am also aware that misdirection must be second nature to him. Perhaps the thing to do is leave the book for a while and then reread it with an eye open for alternative interpretations.

Overall. I think those of us who find Derren Brown interesting as a person - and there are plenty of them - will get most from this book, Anyone wanting to know how he does his 'tricks' should look elsewhere, and I'm not sure it quite stands on its own merits as a piece of writing. I hate to criticise a man who is more self-critical than the harshest of reviewers, but the verbose style, use of extensive footnotes and occasional pedantry can be irritating. Actually, thinking about it, it's reminiscent of Stephen Fry in lots of ways, including the self-revelatory tone, but without his light touch. Having said all that, it is very funny in parts, and Derren Brown IS a nice man.
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17 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Good Book, 6 Jan 2011
By 
B. Beamon (North Carolina) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
Because I payed considerably more to get this book in the US for christmas, the many reviews had me worried that this book, like a few others I've read, would give me the sinking feeling of disappointment and boredom. Of course this is made worse by an author I not only like, but have enjoyed reading and watching. So I entered the book not with lower expectations, but with a search to find what was so disliked by others. I found that I was once again nearly thwarted my own behavior of reading too many reviews before reading a book. Maybe it's a mistake in marketing, but people seemed to have expected something more straight forward from Derren, which is always a mistake. Even if I had expected something else, I don't know that it would be as annoying as I have read from others reactions.

Of course I cannot say the other reviewers are wrong, because this might not have been what engages them. But I not only was never bored, but can put this book in the page-turner category. A short and fine list among non-fiction in my reading world. More than once or twice I had to smile, knowing exactly what Derren was talking about, and pleased someone put it into words. The weaving around the story of the card trick was perfectly done. The trick itself was interesting and more so from the point of view of the one carrying it out. The pages of footnotes were far from annoying when one realizes that this is just comical or descriptive side story which allows more sight into his world. I didn't understand the frustration in other reviews, as I had no problem picking up where the footnote cut in. The writing itself wasn't as drawn out as I had read, though that could be a result of my own reading taste. If you're on the fence because of negative reviews, my advice is to go ahead and get the book,if you're a fan. Where as Tricks of the Mind is better (as a first read of his two) for those who aren't.
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37 of 40 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A frivolous whimsical Christmas haymaker, 19 Nov 2010
This book is very hard to describe. It reads like Derren sat down at his laptop and just went off on one. Derren's stories (I suppose I should say whimsies as the word "whimsy" appears on nearly every page it seems) are woven together by one card trick that is taking place in a Bristol restaurant. This trick comes to its finale on the last page of the book.

Derren is clearly a great thinker and there are some brilliant pages of writing, particularly when he describes being crass with someone due to lack of confidence. He manages to hit the nail on the head at times. Subjects such as Derren being irritated by losing his beloved pens in his flat or how he decides to take the lift or stairs in his apartment are covered. There are many funny anecdotes such as when Derren shuts his eyes and lets an old wheelchair bound woman freewheel down a hill in Croydon.

Unfortunately my motivation to finish the book waned due to the book's trivial nature. Much of the most trivial topics are placed in footnotes that run from page to page. One such footnote takes up three quaters of ten pages (believe it or not). At times, his thoughts go on and he simply puts a colon: and then continues the same sentence for the whole page which makes hard reading unless you are sharp as a razor.

To be fair, the book reads like a mind download from Derren, sitting or scurrying around his two apartments-knocked-into-one and putting those thoughts into writing (whether frivolous or not) and I suppose that was the purpose. Clearly no attempt to write down to the reader was made as Derren reaches deep down into his mental thesauraus to pluck the most arcane words from obscurity.

This book is certainly unique. I suppose you will love it or hate it. Derren is capable of much more than this effort however.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars From mind-bending to mind-numbing, 9 Sep 2011
By 
David Swallow "David of York" (North Yorkshire, UK) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
What a curious oddity this book is.

One imagines the publishers at Channel 4 anticipating huge interest in another book from mentalist Derren Brown and urging him to push out another tome. "It doesn't matter what it's about, just write something, anything - whatever comes to mind" one imagines them saying. And judging by this book, that is exactly what our favourite mind bender has done.

`Confessions of a Conjuror' is a rambling, chaotic collection of (often tedious) anecdotes brought to you by an author who wants you to be aware of such riveting topics as: his procedure for cutting his fingernails, his thoughts on the use of a handkerchief to wipe one's nose, and, as the blurb on the back cover so proudly boasts, his speculations on the manufacturing of Monster Munch. The majority of Brown's observations and revelations are so mundane and inconsequential that one can't quite decide whether he wants you to know everything about him or nothing at all.

The glue that binds this riveting trivia together is a detailed account of a magic trick performed by the author in his younger days to both intrigued and indifferent diners of a busy restaurant. Somehow Brown skilfully manages to describe the trick in great detail without giving too much away. These fascinating sections allow Brown the opportunity to demonstrate and describe his unique blend of psychology, magic, misdirection, and showmanship. They are also where his literary skills become most apparent and lead one to wonder whether a novel would have been a more appropriate outlet for Brown's talents.

Sadly, although these lucid, erudite interludes save the book from being a complete washout, they seem lost amongst the parade of Proustian moments that pepper its pages. `Confessions of a Conjurer' fails to live up to its claim of being "a refreshing alternative to autobiography that will charm and delight you" and instead leaves you wondering what its purpose actually is. Mind-numbing analyses (such as the 11-page footnote examination of elevator behaviour) are mingled with mildly amusing comedic observations and dusted with a light sprinkling of awkward autobiographical reflection. It's as if Brown wanted to shake off his mysterious mentalist persona in the most embarrassing way possible.

I was hoping that the disjointed weirdness of this book was actually building to a mind-blowing climax worthy of one of Derren's stage shows. Sadly this was not the case. Derren Brown has once again succeeded in baffling his audience but, this time, not for the right reasons.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Audiobook is best , Derren reads the book, so a lot better, 30 Jan 2011
I 'listened' to the audio book which is narrated by Derren himself,

i thoroughly enjoyed confessions of a conjuror - it was funny, interesting and fascinating,

im glad i heard the audio book instead of reading as i believe hearing Derren reading makes it easier to picture,

if youre expecting a book like 'tricks of the mind' you will be disappointed as this is like an autobiography and a very enjoyable one at that

good job Derren :)
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43 of 49 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Marketing Genius, 25 Oct 2010
Describing Derren Brown's book as a work of marketing genius may seem like a back-handed compliment; I'm not referring to his capacity to promote himself (why shouldn't he!), but to his ability to see into the murky world that exists between our conscious and unconscious minds - and that's the area marketing people should be aiming to understand.

I've read the one star reviews posted by a couple of people (loss aversion sends us rushing to check these, even on reviews where the vast majority of people rate a product highly) - fortunately I ordered the book before they appeared. I'm not saying that I can't see these reviewers' points, but I think they have misunderstood the book. That said, having heard Derren interviewed about it on Steve Wright's show, he didn't seem overly clear on what it was he'd set out to write!

Confessions of a Conjurer isn't a piece of superficial entertainment and nor is it a guide for those looking to 'Amaze and Amuse their Friends' - I still have that children's book somewhere; it certainly isn't an autobiography in the established sense. Instead this is an opportunity to have a large mirror held up to us, written by someone who actually understands how our minds really work.

Anyone involved in marketing or in the business of understanding consumers would do well to read this book for its insights into human and consumer behaviour.

Ultimately, if you like introspection and are interested in understanding the way all people think, this book is a treasure trove. The diversions the author takes make sense in the world of the non-rational unconscious mind that is frequently being explored.

Derren Brown goes straight to the top of my fantasy dinner party guest list as a result of writing this book: I'd even promise not to ask him to do any card tricks between courses.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Had me from the 'Parmesan Moment', 18 Aug 2011
This is a wonderfully warm, endearing, funny...and utterly bonkers book. I absolutely loved it.

The scene is set on a rainy night in Bristol, where a pre-fame Derren is performing magic tricks at restaurant tables. His precise descriptions and snappy observations of the venue, patrons and waiting staff set the scene... (the 'Parmesan Moment' refers to that slightly awkward gap in the conversation, no matter how trivial, that always tends to occur when the waiter brings the Parmesan over) and then we're off on a rambling and whimsical journey through Derren's childhood, adolescence and random thoughts, all constructed around a card trick he does for a group of participants at a table; the development of which we keep coming back to at various points throughout the book.

The book is written in a nattily conversational style, as though you're sat across from Derren himself whilst he recounts a story from his childhood...which then reminds him of the songs he hums whilst cleaning his teeth...which then makes him think about a maddening encounter he had with someone from his apartment building. It's an autobiography of sorts, but really it's a veritable rollercoaster ride of neurotic observation, excessive childhood habits and intelligent insight...for me it's exactly the kind of mad, delightful conversation I wish I could have in person with people I like in real life!

Some other reviewers have mentioned the footnotes, which are certainly lengthy, but for me these only added to the charm of the book. Some of them mention encounters and little anecdotes which literally had me crying with laughter (I originally attempted to describe one here as an example, but decided this would be impossible without the context and Derren's wonderful turns of phrase - I'd probably end up putting people off buying the book completely).

As a lot of the other reviewers have mentioned, this book is very different from 'Tricks of the Mind', which I also enjoyed immensely. However, I think I liked this one more as it felt a lot more personal, plus the tone of this book is very uplifting. I was disappointed to have finished it!

'Confessions of a Conjuror' is definitely more, as the cover suggests, a journey through Derren's mind rather than a journey through his career and tips on how to replicate some of his tricks. So if that appeals, and you're a fan of Derren the man as well as (or instead of!) his shows, then you may well enjoy this as much as I did.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A fascinating journey into the mind of a person who thinks like me, 1 Feb 2011
By 
J. R. Johnson-Rollings (West Midlands, UK) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
Derren Brown presents an interesting take on the idea of an autobiography - rather than the story of his life it is the story of his personality. The book is presented as a stream of consciousness, structured around a card trick performed at a restaurant in his early days as a magician.

It's a fascinating read, and there are many places where I can identify with what he describes, however if the reader were interested in the facts and figures of Brown's life, his friends, family and so on then they will be disappointed. Instead, what he puts across is how his mind works, its quirks and nuances - the sort of things that everyone will recognise and experience but that are very rarely written of. This insight into myself is what really makes Derren's observations interesting to me.

The story of the magic trick is a good trick in itself, forming a structure around which he can branch off in random directions to cover the stories and observations that he wishes to tell, and it is the thing that kept me going as a reader. The randomness of the content could have lost me in places, but the desire to learn more about the trick is what pulled me along to the next chapter.

That said, I really enjoyed reading it. The footnotes did seem endless and in places were pages longer than the text they are intended to enhance. I love footnotes. It seems a really honest account of the person inside Derren's head, and that's the problem - I'm not entirely convinced that it's not just another mind game and he's having me on.
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Confessions of a Conjuror by Derren Brown (Paperback - 1 Sep 2011)
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