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Dermaphoria [Kindle Edition]

Craig Clevenger
3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)

Print List Price: £7.99
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Book Description

Clandestine chemistry and the LA underworld provide the atmosphere for this kaleidoscopic tale of lost memories and the heartbreak of finding them, from the author of ‘The Contortionist’s Handbook’.

When Eric Ashworth wakes in jail, he has no idea how he got there, or why. His only memory is a woman's name: Desiree.

Released on bail and holed up in a low-rent motel, Eric starts to piece together his former life as a chemist at the centre of a desert drug ring with the help of a powerful new hallucinogen which simultaneously loosens his grip on the present. As the events of his past begin to emerge from the confusion of his fragmented memory, Eric must contend with a gnawing paranoia and the need for ever-increasing fixes – not to mention disturbing visits from an intimidating police detective, his former associate Manhattan White and the ominously named Toe Tag. As his grip on reality becomes more tenuous, past and present, reality and fantasy begin to bleed into each other, bringing this visceral, shifting novel of love and loss to its climax.

Product Description


‘What makes this worth reading is Craig Clevenger’s extraordinary prose: the pleasure of text is everything.’ Guardian

‘What makes the book so unique, so compulsively readable, is Clevenger’s ability to make complex images seem so unforced.’ Independent on Sunday

‘A brilliant satire.’ Sainsbury’s Magazine

‘It’s dizzying stuff…no wonder Chuck Palahniuk is singing his praises on the back cover.’ Metro

Praise for ‘The Contortionist’s Handbook’:

‘A dazzling and highly original debut novel which instantly establishes its author as one of the most interesting writers to emerge in years. This book deserves to be massive and I think it will be.’ Irvine Welsh

‘Craig Clevenger has crafted an unforgettable antihero in John Dolan Vincent. This is an extraordinary debut.’ Richard Kelly, director of ‘Donnie Darko’

‘What sticks out about this remarkable debut are its pitch-perfect shock ending and John Vincent himself – his complex, conflicting mind, original voice and unnervingly self-defeating existence.’ Time Out

‘What sticks out about this remarkable debut are its pitch-perfect shock ending and John Vincent himself – his complex, conflicting mind, original voice and unnervingly self-defeating existence.’ Time Out

‘Clevenger’s talent is revealed in his ability to create a true testament to the resilience of the human spirit.’ USA Today

‘Immaculately detailed and emotionally explosive: this is rolling, riveting stuff’ Kirkus Reviews (starred)

Sainsbury’s Magazine

'A brilliant satire.'

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 347 KB
  • Print Length: 226 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 0385662998
  • Publisher: Fourth Estate (30 Jan. 2014)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.ą r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B00HY5GM2E
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #247,045 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Worth it, Just 19 July 2009
Having read "A Contortionist's Handbook" (a very fine book indeed) I was looking forward to this.

To start with the setup seems similar - first person narration from someone operating 'outside the law' - A flawed 'hero' trying to get their act together. Perhaps love will save them?

But this book then veers away from Clevenger's last, in that the narrator has a very shaky grasp of reality, as opposed to the obsessively detailed and exact 'Contortionist'. This happens to the extent that, for the first half of the book, the narrator's brain is clearly mush. Unfortunately for the reader Clevenger writes about this quite accurately, in that it does smack of having a circular discussion with an acid casualty, in that you can understand what they say but without that emotional experience it is difficult to empathise, thus it gets a bit dull. For the second half (as his thinking begins to get more focused) the reader is left to reflect how the new information colours that given in the first half (symbolism, etc.) while a plot starts to develop. Then, just when our main-man is nearing lucidity, it is all over.

In all it is a frustrating book as it takes so long to get to know enough to form any attachment to the narrator, that by the time you (and he) work out what the story is, it ends. I imagine that this is a very deliberate device but I was not fond of it.

Having said this I would have been far more forgiving had Clevenger's first book not been so great. I will still certainly read his next.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars For language lovers 10 April 2008
By Ruth
One of my favourite books. Beautifully written, engaging characters. Leaves a lot of interpretation to the reader, so can be read again and again. More complex than the Contortionist's handbook- be prepared to invest in this book to get something out of it.
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12 of 14 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Substance abuse...? 15 July 2006
The writing in this LA crime novel of drug abuse and memory loss is certainly arresting. Clevenger's protaganist begins the story having had his brains fried after what appears to have been a seriously bad trip, and his body fried in a house-fire into the bargain. As if that weren't enough, the LA police suspect him of being the king-pin in a major narcotics gang, which is spreading its tentacles up and down the West Coast.

With all his normal points of reference erased, the protaganist sees most of the world around him as a series of bizarre hallucinations (or misapprehensions, would be more accurate). He sets out to re-discover who he is and what happened, and in the process uncovers various dark dealings and double-crosses.

The problem with the book is that it is too self-consciously hip for its own good. The story is thin, and bundles up too quickly at the end. The flights of descriptive fancy are too many, holding up the story as well as being frequently incomprehensible. And, the hints at profundity are just like the profundity one discovers when high as a kite: i.e. the kind that doesn't stand up to much scrutiny in the cold light of day.

If you enjoy weird and imaginitive prose, this book will delight. But if style over substance irritates you, then it is probably best avoided.
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