The Contortionist's Handbook

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Overview

"The Contortionist's Handbook is the story of John Dolan Vincent, a talented young forger with a proclivity for mathematics and drug addiction. A misguided attempt at self-medicating his severe migraines lands him in a mental hospital awaiting a psychiatric evaluation - not his first time being on the brink of involuntary commitment. He knows that to be examined twice is to ensure being institutionalized as a suicide risk. So, following each trip to the hospital, he draws upon his skills as a "contortionist" - an inventor of new identities - and
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The Contortionists Handbook

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Overview

"The Contortionist's Handbook is the story of John Dolan Vincent, a talented young forger with a proclivity for mathematics and drug addiction. A misguided attempt at self-medicating his severe migraines lands him in a mental hospital awaiting a psychiatric evaluation - not his first time being on the brink of involuntary commitment. He knows that to be examined twice is to ensure being institutionalized as a suicide risk. So, following each trip to the hospital, he draws upon his skills as a "contortionist" - an inventor of new identities - and makes a new "life" for himself." This time, however, the stakes are even higher. John and his girlfriend Keara are in danger from underworld thugs unhappy with being cut off from a source of phony documents and his fictional identity is on the verge of falling apart. John must face the formidable psychiatrist eye to eye and bluff his way out of certain doom. In John Dolan Vincent's world, the truth won't set you free - it will lock you up or get you killed.
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Editorial Reviews

Kirkus Review (Starred Review)
Immaculately detailed and emotionally explosive: this is rolling, riveting stuff, of a piece with stylish, edgy movies like 'Memento' and 'Requiem For a Dream'.
Time Out Magazine
What sticks about this remarkable debut are its pitch-perfect shock ending and John Vincent himself‹his complex, conflicted mind, original voice and unnervingly self-defeating existence.
Seattle Times
The voice of Southern California writer Craig Clevenger is anything but calm. Yet it's just as masterfully controlled. And in narrator John Dolan Vincent, Clevenger has created a manic monologuist whose paranoia-inducing world pulls you in completely.

Clevenger delivers images that sear themselves into your mind. The result is a novel that is hard, pure, remarkably accomplished.

USA Today
Clevenger... creates a brilliantly savvy character.

Clevenger's talent is revealed in his ability to create a true testament to the resilience of the human spirit."

Publishers Weekly
Clevenger's debut novel is a well-crafted but underplotted character study of a brilliant, damaged man who struggles with mental illness and substance abuse as he bounces in and out of prison and a series of hospitals around Los Angeles. Most of the novel takes place in the latter setting; some tense early scenes pit protagonist John Dolan Vincent against a psychiatrist known as "The Evaluator," who probes Vincent's psyche to see if his recent overdose of muscle relaxants was really a botched attempt to cure his migraine, as Vincent claims, or a suicide attempt. The twist is that Vincent has checked into the hospital under an assumed name; after each of his previous overdoses he has changed his identity to avoid being placed in a mental hospital. The psychiatric interview provides a decent vehicle for telling the story of Vincent's difficult family life and his decision to use his mathematical talent to assist a murky criminal network. The trouble is that Clevenger has little to offer to push his story forward besides Vincent's efforts to protect Keadra, the woman he falls in love with during a hospital stint, from the thugs who are trying to track him down. Clevenger is a solid writer who does some good work when it comes to creating a noirish atmosphere and smart, compelling characters, but the pace is uneven at best. The quality of the writing warrants a follow-up effort; hopefully, Clevenger will know what to do with his characters the next time around. (Sept.) Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781433298196
  • Publisher: Blackstone Audio, Inc.
  • Publication date: 12/1/2009
  • Format: CD
  • Edition description: Unabridged
  • Pages: 6
  • Product dimensions: 6.26 (w) x 6.50 (h) x 1.17 (d)

Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 36 )
Rating Distribution

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(23)

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(10)

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 36 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted July 4, 2014

    Jiqwesha lanay morant

    I love contortion im the biggest fan ever!!!!

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted December 17, 2010

    I Also Recommend:

    Fantastic if you're a fan of Chuck Palahniuk

    I really liked the tempo of this book. It went back and forth between flash backs and a psych evaluation after a drug overdose. I really liked the off beat descriptions and the realness of the feelings he tries to get across. I read this because Chuck had good things to say about it, and I wasn't disappointed.

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  • Posted April 28, 2010

    wow.

    I was turned on to this book by one of my favorite authors->Chuck Palahniuk

    "I swear to God this is the best book I have read in easily five years. Easily. Maybe ten years." - Chuck Palahniuk, author of Fight Club.

    The characters are really well developed and the plot is original. Clevenger really pulls you into the story with his writing style.

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  • Posted February 2, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    Interesting book...

    I was surprised by how much I actually enjoyed this book. Clevenger uses a very interesting and refreshing premise for this book. John Vincent (main character) is someone who makes the reader thankful that they are not in his position, but still makes the reader sympathetic for what Vincent has gone through in his life. Craig Clevenger shows serious talent for writing and I am looking forward to reading other novels of his. Overall, 'A' grade for this selection.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 30, 2004

    A Great Fiction Novel

    That is just how I would categorize this book. The character elements are astonishing. Clevenger can really get inside your brain and make you think that he is writing about you personally. No I am not a contortionist. But we all are in a way just looking for happiness and trying to squeeze into our niche. No I am not a practicing forger. I don't even have good handwriting. What I enjoy most about this book is that even though I am nothing like the main character and I do not agree with what the character does, I can't help but empathize and feel close to the character, like he is a brother or a best-friend. That is good writing, and that is what I look for when I read a book. The whole book is just wonderfully thought-out. I recommend this to anybody that is looking for a great fiction novel that has a great deal of whit and humor. I have purchased this book 3 times; my own hard cover, my brother-in-law's Christmas gift, and a soft cover so that I can loan it to friends without the risk of losing my copy. I am waiting anxiously for Craig's second book. Kabol.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 15, 2004

    Tremendous effort for a first novel

    Mr. Clevenger's well paced novel draws you in from the first page. The meticulous details regarding the forging of official documents, left me amazed. Clevenger certainly did his research. John Dolan Vincent is a fascinating protagonist, who's too smart for his own good. Can he outwit yet another psychiatrist and evade some of his questionable business contacts? Read it and find out, a great novel.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 10, 2004

    Absolutely incredible - our Contorionist Hero is very well written

    This is an exciting time in literature - especially for fiction novelties. Craig Clevenger adds to the list of great writers that truely command their vocation! This work is solid Authority! Pick it up for a great read.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 9, 2004

    Excellent book

    Craig Clevenger did a great job with this book--it's extremely riveting and interesting. The characters are believable, and his research is more than just thorough. I thought the ending was a bit cryptic, but they that's just me, and I could be wrong.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 29, 2003

    Rescued by a young forger

    Crawling through the labyrinth of mediocre writing in search of something new can often lead to rather unpalatable places. I was in danger of becoming that which I despise: an unadventurous reader safely nestled between the covers with familiar and trusted authors. Craig's book has restored my faith in contemporary writing. I don't know how adequate the comparison is but I found something of Garcia Marquez within this book. Craft. Don't get me wrong, the style and content bear no resemblance. However, there is something of the extraordinary seeming entirely plausible, which appealed to me. The development of the characters is brilliant and the plot compelling enough to read the book in one sitting, provided you don't have to be up early for work the next day. Read this book, if for no other reason than to encourage publishing houses to be a little more daring. Bring on the next one!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 4, 2002

    When's the movie? Can I be in it??

    This book blew me away. In fact, I read it in 3 long sittings because I couldn't put it down. This is doubly significant because I don't read fiction as a rule. Great character development. Intriguing plot. It all works to pull you in. A cerebral work that's still down to earth and in some senses in the gutter. Read it!

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    Posted August 7, 2011

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