×

Uh-oh, it looks like your Internet Explorer is out of date.

For a better shopping experience, please upgrade now.

The Contortionist's Handbook
     

The Contortionist's Handbook

4.5 36
by Craig Clevenger
 

See All Formats & Editions

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

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.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781433298196
Publisher:
Blackstone Audio, Inc.
Publication date:
12/01/2009
Edition description:
Unabridged
Pages:
6
Product dimensions:
6.26(w) x 6.50(h) x 1.17(d)

Customer Reviews

Average Review:

Post to your social network

     

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

See all customer reviews

The Contortionist's Handbook 4.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 36 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
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.
Guest More than 1 year ago
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!
KaneH More than 1 year ago
A strange, yet powerful book, with a protagonist suffering a host of problems. Most notably that he has to exist in a netherworld of identities to avoid crooks, prison, or the psychiatric hospitals. He's an identity forger, and the details we get on his work are fascinating, and sound authentic. The world we are shown is brutal and frightening. Recalls Chuck Palahniuk's work in a very good way, so if you like any of that, you'll enjoy this. Kept my interest and didn't know how it would end, so was quite good.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Spanky-McChuckwagon More than 1 year ago
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.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago