- Paperback: 208 pages
- Publisher: Harper Perennial (2006)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0007194153
- ISBN-13: 978-0007194155
- Product Dimensions: 13.2 x 1.5 x 19.8 cm
- Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars See all reviews (30 customer reviews)
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 101,300 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
The Contortionist's Handbook Paperback – 2006
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More About the Author
'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
'A very impressive debut. The reader sees it from the con-artist's perspective, delivered in a snappy, first-person voice that Clevenger writes with assured flair. This is a tightly controlled piece of work with an intriguingly original approach to the genre that marks the author out as one to watch' Metro
‘Clevenger has created a manic monologist whose paranoia-inducing world pulls you in completely’ Seattle Times
‘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]
About the Author
Craig Clevenger was born in Dallas, Texas and raised in Southern California, where he studied English at California State University, Long Beach. He has travelled extensively and lived in Dublin and London. He now lives in California where he is at work on his second novel, Dermaphoria.
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Top Customer Reviews
You have any interest in psychiatric or psychological matters
You like masses of detail
You like masculine, relatively unemotional biographies
You enjoy books which start in the present and then explain what happened to get to that point.
You have an interest in drug culture
You would rather be left to think at the end of the book than have all the loose ends neatly tied up. This book ends in a mess of ends.
DO NOT BUY THIS BOOK IF:
You like books which start in the present and continue along a standard time scale of chapter 1: two days later, chapter 5: next month, etc.
You like lots of emotions in your books
You cannot handle very long, very detailed sentences
You like books which 'go somewhere' and finish in a very different place to where they started.
The story of a man who constantly changes identites in order to escape from various authorities. he is actually running away from many things, including his past and a dozen authorities all over america. After his fifth overdose, psychiatrists cannot figure out whether it was a suicide attempt or not. As the psychiatrist takes 'Daniel' through the interview, 'Daniel' (or John, or Steven, or Eric, whoever he is today) takes the reader through his life story to how he got where he is.
Trying to summarise the premise would be foolish in a short review. Mr. Clevenger has written a novel in which the narrator is unreliable, the plot non-linear, and the message loud and clear. His book describes in aching and intimate detail how a young, precocious child is lost in the correctional system. Moreover, the reader can come to feel sympathy for the young man's plight. When all other paths are barred, crime is the only way to make a living.
In terms of style, Mr. Clevenger owes much to Chuck Palahniuk. Reading his disjointed, masculine prose, I was reminded of 'Fight Club'. Regardless, Mr. Clevenger has written more than mere pastiche. His first novel is more subtle, more lyrical, and more polished. When reading 'The Contortionist's Handbook', you will feel as though you're attending class. You will learn how to fake personal documents, and how to fool medical professionals. More importantly, you will learn why anyone would try.
In summary, 'The Contortionist's Handbook' is an unpretentious entry into the ranks of postmodern fiction. I'll be reading 'Dermaphoria' in due course.
I have to agree. This is an amazing debut. It's a perfect rollercoaster of a book! Every peak and trough is placed exactly right. It'll grab you and even when you finish it'll stay with you. You will miss your stop if you read it on public transport. You will want to stay off work to finish it.
How good is this book really? It's one of those rare books that you'd spend your own money buying numerous copies of to give to other people.
His conversations with the psychiatrist are particularly captivating as he is able to anticipate every move, every gesture and every question posed to him. Clevenger is a stickler for the smallest details and that's what makes him a great writer - I'm sure he could write about fly-fishing and I'd be equally fixated!
I loved it from start to finish. Short, but extremely sweet.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Dull and uninspiring.
Similar to Chuck P in many ways. (Fight club the exception) An interesting idea but ultimately can't deliver any substance. No wonder he likes it.
This was one excellent book. Brilliantly written, very interesting plot and original main character, great pace. I loved it. Read morePublished 9 months ago by PB
If you tried to kill yourself every time you got a migraine headache it might make you neurotic, compulsive and delusional. Read morePublished 15 months ago by Garrard Hayes
Author is very good. First book of theirs I have read.
Quite simple plot, easy to follow
This book actually got me reading again. The prose itself is so enjoyable, you won't look back after reading a couple pages. Read morePublished on 27 Feb. 2013 by Arttu Ala-Jokimäki
I chose this book as it was recommended alongside similar authors I appreciate - Chuck Palahniuk, Bret Easton Ellis, Hunter S Thompson, William Burroughs. Read morePublished on 10 Feb. 2013 by A Reader
My daughter is very pleased with the book. Now her and her friend can plan what they are planning to do together.Published on 3 Aug. 2012 by Gordon