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PJE

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Confessions of a Conjuror

Confessions of a Conjuror - Derren Brown The first thing to say about this 'memoir' is that Derren Brown has a writing style like no other celebrity, or possibly anyone since the days of Dickens and Melville. His rococo prosification would not be unbefitting of a lawyer in a 19th century novel. I only hope it's not catching.His recollections of a performance of a card trick to an audience in a Bristol restaurant some years ago (before he found fame) form the scaffolding onto which he hangs various digressions - psychological and philosophical flights of fancy. In fact this book is one long meandering, but fascinatingly peculiar, reverie.His astonishingly anal attention to detail as he observes individual audience members - noting the significance of every glance, nuance and gesture and describing events in super slow-motion, is extraordinary. Like Sherlock Holmes deducing everything in bullet-time.It's not just the audience who are under the microscope though, he becomes more and more self-analytical:"Sometimes as I squatted, performing this task in a scruffy coat, surrounded by my shopping bags and glancing shoppers, I wondered what really separates the mentally peculiar from the merely particular," he muses.The task was buying earplugs - which apparently requires a good feel so as to ascertain that the density of the foam is of the desired sufficiency. This is a man so finickety he makes Niles Crane (from the sitcom Frasier) seem like a bit of rough. If I had been told this was a book written by a high functioning autistic, or someone with some similar syndrome, or perhaps a patient of Oliver Sacks, I would have been no more surprised. "Some of these rituals do seem to knock tentatively at the looming fortified door of the asylum," he admits at one point. No shit, Derren! Well, I say no shit, but he does then go on to discuss methods of bottom-wiping...Along the way he does briefly reveal some of the tricks of the trade - conjuring that is, not bottom-wiping. Not only the mechanics of forcing and palming cards but, more interestingly, the psychology of misdirection, the manipulation of the audience's imagination and the whole theatricality of performing magic.Fabulously odd.