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The Contortionist's Handbook [Paperback]

Craig Clevenger
4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (24 customer reviews)

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Book Description

24 Sep 2003
A forger must con his way out of a mental institution.

Product details

  • Paperback: 220 pages
  • Publisher: MacAdam/Cage Publishing, Incorporated (24 Sep 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1931561486
  • ISBN-13: 978-1931561488
  • Product Dimensions: 1.2 x 14.4 x 21.3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (24 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 2,022,440 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

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Product Description


"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."

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, but currently resides in California where he is at work on his second novel, Dermaphoria.

--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
21 of 24 people found the following review helpful
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.
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.
Good page-turner.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Clever Clevenger! 26 Sep 2006
By Cazza
What a fantastic read! Chuck Palaniuck's recommendation caught my eye and was enough for me to snap this up! I'm glad I did! The novel follows the antics of Daniel Fletcher, a man who is constantly changing his identity. He is so good at it that he can fool anyone and everyone, even the authorities and the psychiatrist brought in to analyse him. He is a great character and Clevenger writes the part so well.

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.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Intriguing but icy cold 30 Oct 2010
By Four Violets VINE VOICE
This is one of those books with a "hero" one really shouldn't like, but it`s impossible not to sympathise with him. John Vincent is a drug addict, from a squalid background, living in a twilight world of crime and unconventional sexual encounters, creating alter-egos for himself as he evades being sectioned for repeated overdoses. John Vincent claims they are his attempt to stop the unbearable pain of unexplained headaches. He is also evading underworld figures who want him for his talent at creating identities, a talent he has frequently used for himself as he constantly re-invents himself. Until he meets a woman who has as many secrets as he does. Intriguing, yes, but icy cold and at time a bit over the top in the "male fantasy" department.
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11 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Buy This Book 20 Oct 2003
By M Stacy
Chuck Palahniuk says (on the cover) something like 'This is the best book I've read in five years, maybe even ten'
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.
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8 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars BUY, READ, SHARE... 7 Oct 2003
This book wasn't available on until recently and so I got it elsewhere (direct from the US) - now that it is available here, I recommend to everyone fortune enough to chance upon this page that they buy it... It is a gripping story of personal reinvention against the backdrop of the L.A. underworld. The kind of story which lingers in the mind afterwards, the kind of book you make sure you keep handy for the inevitable re-read.
I recommend it wholeheartedly.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Book - looking forward to his next 22 April 2005
By A Customer
I picked up this book to read a page or two and next thing I knew half an hour had passed me by.
It's very well written. The writer has done his homework, writes with great authority, and entertains.
I'm looking forward to his next: Dermaphoria.
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4.0 out of 5 stars good read 21 Nov 2013
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Good read.
Author is very good. First book of theirs I have read.
Quite simple plot, easy to follow
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5.0 out of 5 stars The best book I've read in ages 27 Feb 2013
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This book actually got me reading again. The prose itself is so enjoyable, you won't look back after reading a couple pages. This book opens up a world of conmen, forgery and clever deceipt for you, and describes it with such detail, that it actually makes you want to go out on and try it out yourself. Left me wanting for more, the book definitely earned it's spot on my bookshelf.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Enjoyable
I chose this book as it was recommended alongside similar authors I appreciate - Chuck Palahniuk, Bret Easton Ellis, Hunter S Thompson, William Burroughs. Read more
Published 18 months ago by A Reader
5.0 out of 5 stars Contortionist heaven.
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
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant
One of the best written books I've read in a long time. The framing of the novel is great and keeps it fresh.. Every sentence is brilliantly thought out defiantly worth a read.
Published on 19 Mar 2012 by Amy92
5.0 out of 5 stars A hell of his own making.
With recommendations from both Chuck Palahniuk and Irvine Welsh, I had high hopes for this book and thankfully I wasn't disappointed. Read more
Published on 24 Oct 2011 by vi
4.0 out of 5 stars Surprisingly good
This book tells the story of a man who continually changes his name, life history, location and friends, to try and erase his terrible childhood. Read more
Published on 12 Oct 2010 by miss_spookiness
5.0 out of 5 stars Really enjoyed it
This is one of those books which doesn't neatly fit into categories, is it about Psychology? Drugs? Crime? Love? All of the above? Read more
Published on 28 Nov 2009 by Marc Munier
4.0 out of 5 stars Eloquent and enjoyable
It would be an undeserved slight to describe Clevenger's style as derivative, but his gritty narrative puts one in mind of a film noir voice-over. Read more
Published on 16 Aug 2009 by Mark Hurst
1.0 out of 5 stars Contortionism is painful
Many people seem to have loved this book, so it's got to have something to it - however, it just didn't work for me. Read more
Published on 16 Dec 2008 by booksy
3.0 out of 5 stars Alright if you have a short memory
After seeing the huge accolade from Chuck Palahnuik on the cover I wasn't sure about this as I'm not a particular fan of his, but I enjoyed it more than I thought I would - great... Read more
Published on 3 Dec 2008 by A. Furse
5.0 out of 5 stars Gripping & Twisted
I loved this book, I'd become disillusioned by a number of books I'd read before this but this got me loving books again. Read more
Published on 14 May 2008 by S. Miller
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Books about conmen, identity fraud, forgery and/or sleight of hand? 0 6 Mar 2013
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