Author(s): Brown, Derren
Format: Hardbound with Dust Jacket
Publication Summary: 2002, 164 pages
Publisher: H & R Magic Books
We regret to report that at the express request of the author, this book will not be reprinted. Copies are often available on eBay, where a used copy of the H & R edition sold for $792 in December 2006. Because of the many requests we receive for information, and because we are proud to have been associated with its publication, we are keeping this listing active, even though we cannot supply copies. We do occasional run across used copies. Feel free to email us regarding availability.
Originally issued in the UK
in a spiral bound edition with limited distribution, we have upgraded the format
to the handsome hardback we feel the contents merit. What first drew our
attention to this book was the praise given it by Jerry Sadowitz and Ian
Rowland. What we first liked about it was its attitude: confident, witty and
literate. What convinced us to publish it, however, was its combination of style
book is organized in three sections: Part One: Practical, Part Two:
Magical Artistry and Part Three: Direct Mindreading. The first part consists
of three intelligent and provocative essays on performance and presentation.
Brown takes his performances very seriously and discusses the strategies that
allow his audiences to take them seriously as well. This is not meant to imply
that he or his performances are humorless—on the contrary, his book and
performances exhibit a most lively sense of humor; but never at the expense of
the mystery he is cultivating.
Brown has extensive restaurant and walk-around
performing experience and this section should be required reading for those who
think (as he once did) that their goal is simply to perform for as many tables
as possible in the allotted time. He discusses numerous examples from his own
working repertoire, showing the practical implications of his theoretical
second section is a collection of sleight-of-hand card effects. Brown likes the
visual card style of his friend Lennart Green and the first effect,
"Zamiel's Card" acknowledges that influence. Real cards are peeled of an
imaginary tabled deck until the spectator's mentally selected card is reached.
This uses Brown's "Figaro Transfer," a utility move that will surely
inspire other applications.
This is followed by his "Three Card Routine," which he confesses is a
"marathon" card trick, but one he nonetheless most often uses as an opening
effect. Three selected cards undergo a variety of magical experiences of
increasing intensity. Brown's detailed description of this one effect runs to
23 pages, the longest in the book, but those who master it will have added a
sophisticated and impressive piece of card conjuring to their repertoires. After
a "bit of nonsense" he calls "Magicall" (the deck is apparently used as
a cell phone to reveal the selection), Brown details two original sleights,
"The Velvet Turnover," which may be used as a substitute for the double lift
in an ambitious card routine, and "The Left Hand Centre Steal."
final section of the book will likely generate the most controversy and
excitement. It begins with several short essays specific to the performance of
contemporary mind reading. Brown belongs to the growing cadre of mentalists who
believe that such effects should be powerful and direct while eschewing
hackneyed claims of superhuman psychic abilities. He prefers to imply that he is
using subtle psychological principles to create the illusion of telepathy,
surely an explanation as fascinating—if not more so—to an intelligent
audience than a claim of genuine telepathy, particularly when the illusions he
creates are so compelling. Brown includes a discussion of "communicative
subtleties," in which information is accessed from the spectators'
subliminal cues. Reference is made to Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP)
techniques, which Brown has studied, but does not adhere to dogmatically. His
essay, "You're supposed to be reading minds," may be for some the most
useful in the book, as he points out by example the difference between standard
mentalism and actual mind reading. For an audience, it is the process of mind
reading, as much as the ultimate revelation, that makes such performances
fascinating, and Brown's examples demonstrate this convincingly.
is followed by "Smoke," an effect that many would not view as mentalism at
all, but it fits the Derren Brown persona in that context perfectly. A mentally
selected card is revealed by the performer, then shown not to have been in the
deck at all, and finally revealed as (not in!) the cigarette he has apparently
been smoking the whole while. Certainly not standard mentalism, but it creates
the cognitive dissonance Brown is aiming for: Did he make the spectator think of
a card that was never there, and did we only imagine him lighting a cigarette?
Next is "Plerophoria," an increasingly complex and impressive divination of
cards from a repeatedly shuffled deck out of the performer's control.
"Perfect Coin Reading," is a date divination that, alas, will currently only
work in the UK, though it may stimulate thinking along similar lines in other
countries. Brown uses it as a lead-in to having the coin bend in the
spectator's hand, with some interesting presentational touches. Transformation
is another card trick that does not fit the standard idea of mentalism: a
spectator chooses three cards which form the basis of a cold reading. Ultimately
they transform into three Aces, which then become a single Joker. Although
accomplished by sleight-of-hand, it is done on the offbeat, with no visible
manipulation, and in the context of the reading, making it potentially a very
powerful personal experience for the spectator. The final bit of technical
information in the book is Brown's handling of two verbal card forces. Through
the use of physical and verbal cues, Brown virtually compels the choices. This
may seem so bold as to be obvious when reading it, but properly performed, Brown
assures us it is effective without being obvious.
book concludes with some final thoughts, thank you's, two satirical magic
catalog advertisements, and page of celebrity caricatures by Brown, who is also
an accomplished visual artist. The sleight of hand skills required for the
material are advanced: the Tenkai palm, the pass, etc. Those who lack such
skills would still learn much by studying Brown's presentational strategies,
psychological ploys and the structure of his effects.