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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Cocaine dealer avoids jail using a scam straight from the pages of How To Forget

When I wrote this particular scam in How To Forget I wondered why we didn’t hear of this kind of law evasion ever happening… and now it does… did he read the book?  Am I going to be implicated?  Read on…

Cocaine dealer avoids jail by pretending he is illegal Mexican  immigrant and gets DEPORTED instead



Liar: Jaime Alvarado claimed he was an illegal Mexican immigrant to avoid jail

An American avoided going to prison for drug dealing by lying to police he was an illegal immigrant so he could be deported to Mexico.

Jaime Alvarado claimed he was Mexican Saul Quiroz when he pleaded guilty to possession of cocaine and heroin with the intent to distribute.

He lied about his birth date and claimed he was an illegal immigrant TWICE in front of judges.

Alvarado was facing a sentence of up to 15 years but instead was deported, according to court records.

The 27-year-old exploited a system in which law enforcement officials sometimes prefer to send offenders back to their own countries instead of adding to an already overcrowded prison system.

But Alvarado, from Salt Lake City, Utah, returned to the U.S. a month later using his genuine American passport. Instead of lying low he got arrested again in his home city – in connection with the previous case.

Last February he acknowledged during a court hearing that he had lied about his true identity. In a follow-up letter to the judge, he said he regretted his actions and asked for leniency because his family depended on him.

He wrote: ‘I have a good job right now, a lot of little girls waiting for me and a family that will support me. It’s my first offence and my last. I want to spend the rest of my life with my kids!’

He was released by the court, but this week Alvarado was charged in Utah’s 3rd District Court with giving false material statements and giving false personal information to a peace officer.

A $50,000 warrant had been issued for his arrest since he failed to report to state authorities in June after U.S. immigration officers determined he was legally present in the country.

Rishi Oza, an immigration attorney, said Alvarado’s plan is ‘not a risk I’d ever want to take because you’re creating a bigger hole for yourself.

‘More often than not,  a person claims to be legal to avoid detection.I have never seen an American citizen try to get deported.’

via Cocaine dealer avoids jail by pretending he is illegal Mexican immigrant and gets DEPORTED instead | Mail Online.

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.

‘Limits’ Jorge Luis Borges

Borges ‘Limits’ is an immensely moving poem encapsulating mortality and memory. The idea that any beautiful moment or place or person, any wonderful experience is fleeting and you may never see it again, and it will be that way for the rest of your life – only a memory and, even that, will fade to nothingness.

Of all the streets that blur in to the sunset,
There must be one (which, I am not sure)
That I by now have walked for the last time
Without guessing it, the pawn of that Someone

Who fixes in advance omnipotent laws,
Sets up a secret and unwavering scale
for all the shadows, dreams, and forms
Woven into the texture of this life.

If there is a limit to all things and a measure
And a last time and nothing more and forgetfulness,
Who will tell us to whom in this house
We without knowing it have said farewell?

Through the dawning window night withdraws
And among the stacked books which throw
Irregular shadows on the dim table,
There must be one which I will never read.

There is in the South more than one worn gate,
With its cement urns and planted cactus,
Which is already forbidden to my entry,
Inaccessible, as in a lithograph.

There is a door you have closed forever
And some mirror is expecting you in vain;
To you the crossroads seem wide open,
Yet watching you, four-faced, is a Janus.

There is among all your memories one
Which has now been lost beyond recall.
You will not be seen going down to that fountain
Neither by white sun nor by yellow moon.

You will never recapture what the Persian
Said in his language woven with birds and roses,
When, in the sunset, before the light disperses,
You wish to give words to unforgettable things.

And the steadily flowing Rhone and the lake,
All that vast yesterday over which today I bend?
They will be as lost as Carthage,
Scourged by the Romans with fire and salt.

At dawn I seem to hear the turbulent
Murmur of crowds milling and fading away;
They are all I have been loved by, forgotten by;
Space, time, and Borges now are leaving me.

Jorge Luis Borges

And then, knowing Borges was blind, is this poem so filled with moving visual texture even more poignant?

Ladies who Launch

Thank you to everyone who attended the launch of How To Forget at Daunt’s Bookshop on the Fulham Road last Wednesday.  It was a night of old friendships reacquainted, ink and magic – a huge number of you turned up and depleted a very large stack of books.  Those who forgot to come missed my slightly odd book-reading which, in deference to the magic in the book, I performed through the medium of someone else’s mind, read verbatim from a page which was never in the book she read.

The magicians Laura London and Russell Levinson performed incredible feats of prestidigitation and since some of Laura’s magic involved balls of fire, Daunts showed admirable restraint in not pointing out the obvious dangers to their combustible stock.

I had a marvelous time, I hope everybody who came did, and as a little taste for those who didn’t – witness the mandatory awkward proxemics of this trade paper/Publisher’s Weekly style photo from the do featuring my brilliant editor Jane Lawson, Laura London and me… I’ll leave it up to you to decide who’s who.

Meanwhile… a report from the local newspaper sounds rather familiar:

Magic at Daunts

Thursday, 6th October 2011

Magic was the theme at Daunts Bookshop on the Fulham Road as partygoers gathered to celebrate the launch of Chelsea author Marius Brill’s new novel How To Forget – A book of Laughter and Regretting.

To honour the book’s themes of conjurers and con artists, burlesque magician Laura London, from ITV1’s ‘Penn and Teller’s Fool Us’, and local card expert Russell Levinson performed miracles of magic for the guests.  Even though Laura had packs of cards bursting into flames just inches from the bookshop’s highly flammable stock, manager Max Porter appeared amazed but, ironically, un-daunted.

Marius Brill welcomed guests including ‘Chancer’ actress Lynsey Baxter and a melange of notable writers and artists (of all varieties).

To promote this literary thriller about illusions and the mind, Brill turned his hand to magic to by performing a reading from How to Forget.  He chose not to read from its pages but from a spectator’s mind who had been asked to memorise any passage they liked.  He then revealed that the page his volunteer had read had been torn out of the book before she had even opened it. We’re still trying to work out how he did that.

“You hang about with magicians long enough and some of the pixie dust rubs off,” Brill said.  “Along with the rip-roaring adventure, readers will discover the secrets behind many of the world’s greatest magical ideas.”How To Forget by Marius Brill, published by Doubleday, is for sale at Daunts and all major bookshops now. £12.99.

via Magic at Daunts – KensingtonChelseaToday.

“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)