Critical Responses to ‘How To Forget’


The Best of 2011! « virginbooks

The Best of 2011!

December 8, 2011

Whenever you walk into any bookshop, it’s always overwhelming just how many new books there are. So many hundreds of titles are published each year that it can be a hopeless, thankless, even soul-destroying job trying to keep on top of which ones are worth reading.Luckily for you, we’re here to pick out the best, so you can make sure you know what to ask Santa for, or indeed so you know what to buy for the book-lover in your life. After all, Christmas is only thirteen days away and-Thirteen days? OMG.

Anyway, where was I? Presented for your delectation, and in no particular order, here are the ten books we’ve really, honestly loved in 2012.Today’s book is How To Forget, by Marius Brill.Brill’s second novel arrives almost ten years after his amazing debut Making Love: A Conspiracy of the Heart, and the good news is that How To Forget is just as funny, just as clever, and just as enjoyable.

Brill is as clever as Douglas Adams, as intrusive and humourous a narrator as Terry Pratchett, but writes convoluted thrillers which are dunked in a vat of jet-black comedy.

As with Making Love, another book about romance, spies and international pursuit, this is a novel which will delight men and women equally, even if it looks to be aimed more squarely at the male reader.

Magicov the Magnificent, once a great illusionist, earns his living entertaining the geriatrics of Lotus House Care-home. But Mr Magicov also known as Peter envies them – they’ve mastered a trick that eludes him. They can forget. There are so many things Peter yearns to forget: the shameful moment an eight-year-old wrecked his life; the FBI agent who hunted him like a dog; that suitcase stuffed with a million pounds. More than anything Peter wants to forget Kate, the expert con woman. The one he loved and left. For renowned brain-scientist Dr Chris Tavasligh, Peter’s craving to escape makes him the perfect candidate for his bold experiment in changing minds – forever. Faced with such an opportunity, will Peter go through with it? And if he does, who will he become?

Magic meets crime, while love meets psychology. It’s one of those rare novels that feels too full of great ideas and subjects, and what’s satisfying is the way each is fleshed out and pursued. In a nutshell, it’s big and clever, extremely funny, very romantic, and the laughter goes to some very dark places along the way, so adults only please!

Available at selected Virgin Megastores for 84 AED

via The Best of 2011! « virginbooks.

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Astonishing Diversity

An extraordinary and delightful five star review just popped up on Amazon which must be worth sharing as it is probably better than the blurb on the cover of the book…. read on…
5.0 out of 5 stars Astonishing Diversity, 5 Nov 2011

Your Christmas shopping this year has just been made easy. Imagine a guy in a black tee-shirt working in a bookshop trying to puzzle out which section to place a book in. Should he put it in Comedy? Or Science Fiction? It could go in Romance, but then again it would fit just as neatly in Action Thriller. At the same time, he knows it transcends all these genres and could happily settle in Literary Fiction. Marius Brill’s second novel, ‘How to Forget’ is that book – an astonishing combination of several genres – a crossover book which gives a whole new meaning to the term. It’s not surprising, then, that the cast of characters is equally as diverse. A magician, a doctor of neurology, a collection of six-year-olds, an Australian widow with a sheep farm and an Hispanic maid revolve around the main characters, who themselves – a timid hero with a failed career and an Amazonian heroine with the instincts of a crack SAS officer – are thrown together in an unlikely, yet engaging, romance.
Hounded by an evil genius and a lumbering American cop and crippled by their own emotional make-up, the pair animates what is a thoroughly researched and fascinating study of the nature of emotional memories and how they affect happiness. Kate, a heroine without soft spots, suffers an internal crisis on finding herself on the brink of love and her predicament is recorded with a delicacy that puts one in mind of the best of Jane Austen’s heroines. Touching, intellectually challenging, magical, hilarious, serious, fast-paced and gripping, but above all witty, ‘How to Forget’ really is the book with something in it for everyone. This novel deserves a place in just about every section of the bookshop – with the exception of cookery. There is nothing in ‘How to Forget’ about cookery.

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A magical book


How to Forget

Marius Brill (Author)

A magical book; or rather a book about magic, confidence trickery, illusions, prestidigitation, conjuring, mind reading and more, all interwoven with the long quest for catharsis of an unmanned magician and his emergent relationship with a lifelong female hustler. As if that weren’t enough, the book is written in the style of a literary humoresque, seasoned with amusing asides and adroit wordplay. (It was often punny, sometimes funny. One example, describing over-long sunbathing: “Is ‘lobsterized a word? Take it as red…”).

This is a polished second-book performance from an accomplished author. He manages a clever and convoluted plot extremely well, and his characters are vividly portrayed. He employs a neat technique of interspersing narrative with clinical notes from the consultant psychiatrist purporting to be the author, and background material into brain function and research. All of which, in the context of this book, may or not be illusory. Either way, a very worthwhile diversion.

Reviewed by: John Oakley – Stourbridge

Personal read: *****

Group read: *****

Publisher: Doubleday

ISBN: 9780385605243

Published Date: Thu 18th Aug 2011

Format: Hardback

via How to Forget





The perfect partner to a day on a sunlounger.

This may sound a bit over enthusiastic – but I’m going to say it anyway. Marius Brill needs to add an extra ‘iant’ to the end of his surname. Once you’ve read How To Forget you’ll understand why.

Brill’s second novel is a ‘fictual book’, meaning it mixes up fiction with facts. The fictional side of the story revolves around the grand illusionist, Magicov the Magnificent, AKA Peter, who earns a living performing tricks in a nursing home. Peter is jealous of the geriatrics he entertains, particularly the old people who have lost their memories. This is because there are painful events in his life that he wishes to forget.

During the novel, Peter is approached by brain scientist, Dr Chris Tavasligh, who offers to help Peter forget for good. The facts, which are woven throughout the book, are all about the processes involved in human memory. And they’re there to make us think twice about what we believe we know.

If you’re worried that the book sounds a bit too heavy, don’t be. The novel is written so that you can sail through the pages. Chapters are split into bite-size portions and the prose is broken up by pages of fictional magazine articles, handwritten letters and emails.

Brill’s writing is top-dollar, too. Here is a writer who has taken up arms against clichés, and the result is page after page of refreshingly unique prose.

Overall, this book is an ideal holiday read. Once you pick it up you won’t want to put it down, which makes it the perfect partner to a day on a sunlounger.

If you like this, try this… The Corrections by Jonathan Franzen

via How To Forget Marius Brill | FirstChoice blog.

Flip-flop rating for this book:

5 / 5

About Reviewer

  • Name: Sarah Holt
  • Favourite Book: We Need to Talk About Kevin by Lionel Shriver
  • Guilty Pleasure: The Twilight Saga by Stephenie Meyer
  • Favourite Holiday: Rio Carnival, Brazil
  • Sarah Holt


Clever, funny and highly entertaining – a must for fans of “Hustle”

With a great cast of eccentric characters, this is a very funny and very clever story of grifts, cons and magicians. Brill asks how much of our character is governed by our memories and what if we could forget the most painful ones?

If you are a fan of the BBC’s ‘Hustle’ series, you will absolutely love Marius Brill’s ‘How to Forget’. It’s a funny, clever and twisted tale of grifters and con tricks with a bit of magic thrown in for good measure. Brill gives us a cast of strange characters: there’s an ethically dubious brain scientist, a dodgy Derren Brown-type TV celebrity whose interests are guarded by two violent but somewhat hapless Hasidic Jewish thugs, an equally violent FBI agent and a female British copper. At the heart of the story though is an apparently naïve British magician, Peter, and a supreme grifter, Kate, in whose life Peter finds himself entangled.

At first, it can take a while to get into the book as the breadth of the characters and their stories take a while to unfold. This is compounded by the meta-concept that Brill adopts that the book itself is a compilation of the basic manuscript and the scientist’s own papers, so just when the story appears to get going, there are pseudo-academic papers on the science of the mind. Thankfully this abates somewhat later in the book and the annoyance factor is minimized by the fact that Dr Tavasligh is unlike any academic you’ve ever read in that his papers are often very funny in themselves. At first though, partly because the two main characters, Peter and Kate, are so interesting it can be a little frustrating not to get on with their story.

While on the subject of the main characters, I’m still a little bemused by the choice of names. Kate’s full name is Catherine Minola while Peter’s is Peter Ruchio. Obviously this is a reference to Shakespeare’s ‘Taming of the Shrew’ (Pete Ruchio – Petruchio) which could be seen to be an indicator or what appears to be Kate’s situation – a strong, independent woman who may or may not conform to society – but it’s a bit of a stretch and that was a feeling that I had about much of the, very funny, humour throughout the book. The similes in particular are a bit off the wall but often hilarious, but it seems at times as if the story gets stretched to make the joke rather than the jokes flowing naturally out of the story. It’s a minor point but I did find it a little irritating and a bit ‘show-off-ish’. And to return to the names issue, Peter is as far removed from Shakespeare’s Petruchio as it is possible to be. It seems to me a strange choice of names when a rose by any other name would smell as sweet.

What Brill does, well Brilliantly is to keep the reader guessing about what is real and what is illusion. There’s plenty of good old magician-style misdirection but you don’t feel that you are being deliberately led astray. Much like a good magician really. Once you get into the meat of the second part of the book in particular the story rattles along without interruption and takes you from the US, to the English south coast, via Paris and New Zealand.

The bottom line is that it’s a joy to read and each time I picked it up I found myself smiling at the prospect and when I put it down, smiling at the story, which is not a bad recommendation. It’s clearly well researched, both in terms of the magician aspects and the workings of the brain, but this seldom gets in the way of the story. If you are looking for a funny, but intelligent and highly original story, this is a great choice.

Our thanks to the kind folk at Doubleday who didn’t forget to send a copy to The Bookbag.

For more clever playing with the reader’s mind, then look no further than The Afterparty by Leo Benedictus while for a more serious look at the workings of forgetfulness then remember to also read the remarkable Before I Go To Sleep by S J Watson.

You can read more book reviews and buy How to Forget by Marius Brill at Amazon and Waterstones

via How to Forget by Marius Brill – book review.

“Page-turning Tension”



Marius Brill, How to Forget (2011) from David Hebblethwaite’s blog about books (et al)

Magician Peter Ruchio was humiliated, and his career derailed, by a prank played by Titus Black at the latter’s eighth birthday party; fifteen years later, Black has grown up to be a famous illusionist (though he is not above committing murder to preserve his secrets), whilst Peter is performing tricks in restaurants and old people’s homes. A chance encounter with Kate Minola, a grifter on the FBI’s Most Wanted list, gives Peter the opportunity to take his revenge on Black; but his experiences ultimately lead  Peter to seek the help of Dr Chris Tavasligh, a neuroscientist working on a way to ‘reboot’ the human brain, thereby erasing all memories. That was three years ago, and Tavasligh subsequently disappeared; the book in our hands purports to be the scientist’s collected papers.

As befits a novel about a magician, How to Forget is full of misdirection; one is never quite sure which way the characters will turn, who can be trusted – and there’s a sense at the end that the real story is not the one we thought it was (the allusions to The Taming of the Shrew in the protagonists’ names serve, as far as I can tell, to highlight the idea of a story within a story). Not everything in the book works so well: the larger-than-life tone and occasional comic interludes tend to rub against the more serious episodes, rather than working with them; and it seems to me that Brill’s material on memory doesn’t quite integrate successfully with the plot. Better is the author’s comparison of Peter’s and Kate’s professions, which leads them to face up to some difficult questions; and the caper narrative has all the page-turning tension and momentum one could wish.

via Book notes: Moran, Harstad, Brill « Follow the Thread.

“Intelligent and witty, a terrific page-turner”

5.0 out of 5 stars Intelligent and witty, a terrific page-turner

21 July 2011

By Mark Webb “marcos_cu” (TOP 500 REVIEWER)

You’ve got to stay alert while reading How to Forget; ironically, you also need a good memory, because there’s a multitude of twists and turns, sudden changes of direction, shifting identities and aliases as you follow the clever, crude and utterly compelling tale of poor Peter, aka Mr Magicov, entertainer to the elderly, whose life was ruined in a disastrous and hilarious child molestation case, orchestrated by the monstrous Titus, now a celebrity illusionist in the Derren Brown mould.

The story follows Peter’s struggles to forget his agonising past and make a new life, a struggle pushed to dizzy new heights (and very much against Peter’s will), by self-obsessed con-artist Kate, on the run from her own nemesis, the obsessive and sociopathically vicious FBI Agent Brown. I don’t think it gives too much away to say the tale ends with a delicious double twist in which practically everyone gets their just deserts.

The ‘academic’ inserts seemed a tad intrusive, interrupting, as they did, an otherwise fast-moving, page-turning narrative. I feel they would have worked better if they could have been somehow woven into the story, rather than as ever-more distracting `case-notes’. I did find myself skimming them a little, as the plot became ever more compelling.

How to Forget is a terrific story with brilliantly worked characters and an intelligent, fast-moving plot. One of the best novels I’ve read this year and very highly recommended indeed.

via How to Forget: Marius Brill: Books.

“Narrative Pyrotechnics”

‘Narrative Pyrotechnics’ is about the only nice thing this slightly grumpy review from the Eastern Daily Press (27.10.11) could come up with for How To Forget… apparently I failed to write the book required because I bothered to make it humorous.  As Kurt Vonnegut so often said (with deference to the seven dwarves) – heigh ho.  Still lots of story description so at least I kept his attention.

(click on review to enlarge)


“Extremely clever and funny novel”

So far… I’m loving my Amazon reviews.  It’s brilliant to get feed-back to see what I’m doing right and where I’m going wrong. A big thank you to S Riaz “humz” for this 5 Star “Review of the Day” here on Amazon.

[box] This is an extremely clever and funny novel. Peter is a magician and the hero of our story. His life turns on a pivotal moment, when a childrens birthday party went hysterically and horribly wrong (I thought it was the funniest part of the book) and he is reduced to entertaining geriatric patients in a care home. There he befriends Cedric, who was once a famous magician himself, and the neuroscientist Dr Tavasligh, who is currently working on memories and Alzheimer’s patients. Cedric is the father of Kate, a con artist, who is on the FBI’s most wanted page and being pursued by Agent Brown – an agent with a personal vendetta.

Dr Tavasligh sees Peter as his perfect patient – a man who can replace his past. Peter’s story is narrated by Tavasligh, as a way of preserving his old life, and Peter’s life is about to get a whole lot more interesting. When Peter meets Kate, he sees the daughter who abandoned her father and she sees a life that she cannot remember. As Kate is forced to flee, again, Peter finds himself also on the run and, quite frankly, having the time of his life. But what of his nemesis, the TV charlatan Titus Black? The boy who ruined Peter’s life and is now a famous and successful star? Can Kate help him wreak revenge and can they trust each other enough to pull it off – will Peter win for once?

There follows an amazing chase, with many funny and wonderful characters. Titus Black, the smarmy TV personality and his two sidekicks, a kind of Jewish Ronnie and Reggie Kray double act; Agent Brown, always hot on the trail, and Peter and Kate trying to evade capture and come out on top. The book is extremely clever, with a fast paced plot and wonderful dialogue, plus so many brilliant one liners you will be unable to stop yourself laughing out loud. A real winner for a feel good read and wonderfully written. Excellent book, which I really enjoyed and highly recommend.[/box]

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