The Contortionist's Handbook

The Contortionist's Handbook

4.5 36
by Craig Clevenger
     
 

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The Contortionist¹s Handbook is the story of John Dolan Vincent, and
abnormally gifted child with a proclivity for mathematics beyond his years.
However, he also bears a rare deformity‹polydactylism‹and his genius is
counterbalanced by a near absence of social skills and episodes of

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Overview

The Contortionist¹s Handbook is the story of John Dolan Vincent, and
abnormally gifted child with a proclivity for mathematics beyond his years.
However, he also bears a rare deformity‹polydactylism‹and his genius is
counterbalanced by a near absence of social skills and episodes of severe
migraines.

As an adult his migraines occur with alarming regularity. And his repeated
attempts at self-medication send him over and over to the emergency room. He
knows that to visit twice is to be institutionalized as a suicide risk. So,
following each trip to the hospital, he draws upon his skills as a petty
forger, and reinvents a new identity for himself.

The Contortionist¹s Handbook is about the lengths people will go to in order
to protect themselves from others and ultimately from themselves.

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:
9781931561488
Publisher:
MacAdam/Cage Publishing, Incorporated
Publication date:
08/24/2003
Pages:
220
Product dimensions:
6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.50(d)

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