Confessions of a Conjuror Paperback – 1 Sep 2011
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"Weird, whimsical and, at times, uproarious... Brown takes us on a meandering pleasure cruise downriver. It is worth the journey" (The Sunday Times)
"It combines a playfully baroque prose style with pinpoint observation and almost excruciating levels of self-examination, if not loathing. It's a fascinating experience" (AL Kennedy Guardian, Books of the Year)
"A fantastic voyage into Derren Brown's intensely sharp brain... A deeply funny and eccentric triumph" (Heat)
"Closer to the work of someone like Malcolm Gladwell than to the... reminiscences of Brown's memoirs-writing contemporaries" (Word)
"A lovely kind of magic trick in book form" (Boing Boing)
About the Author
Derren was born in 1971 in Croydon. A precocious and puzzling only child, he liked to paint, foster obsessive habits and once set fire to a neighbour's boat by accident. In 1999 he was asked by Channel 4 to put a mind-reading programme together for television. It was an immediate success and gained Derren a cool underground kudos. Two more series followed and then in October 2003 Derren caused an international furore by playing Russian Roulette live on television. This secured his notoriety with the public and his big apartment in London. Further specials have followed, including The Seance, still the most complained about show in the history of television.
Derren's workload keeps him exhausted and irritable fifty-two weeks a year and he continues to live in London with a large collection of taxidermy and a fatalistic parrot. He spends any free weekends painting and likes to receive gifts.
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On the language: one of my language betes noires is a reluctance to reuse the same word, to look for convoluted synonyms to avoid repetition, in a way that drags the eye and seems more clumsy than repetition would have. Derren does this throughout and it isn’t just okay, it’s a central part of the pleasure. It’s obviously tongue in cheek, and the joy he takes in finding comically wordy alternatives (again, I can’t find a better example than his discussion of Monster Munch) is transmitted without dilution to the reader.
Autobiographies are my favourite genre. I’m currently rereading this while reading the most beautifully written, transcendent autobiography by Armistead Maupin, and they are giving me equal pleasure. This is not a book about an odd man, this is a book about an odd species, and to read it is to feel less odd, and more connected to that species.
The structure does give the potential for the book to be a hit or miss affair but there is far more of the former, verging on almost pure philosophy (kindness/human nature) to more comedic subjects. Occasionally he does stray into worryingly obsessive pedantry (lifts) but these parts are short lived and do not detract from the book as a whole.
If it's linear structure you're after, steer clear but if you enjoy brave, intelligent and humorous prose which avoids the usual mundane pitfalls of autobiographical rambling, get this.