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24 Reviews
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21 of 24 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars a concise summary of the contortionists handbook
BUY THIS BOOK IF:
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...
Published on 2 May 2005 by cabbage_leaf

versus
2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
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 characters and some interesting ideas about identity and trust.

However, there were quite a few places where Clevenger was needlessly repetitive, rattling on and on about the main...
Published on 3 Dec 2008 by A. Furse


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21 of 24 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars a concise summary of the contortionists handbook, 2 May 2005
BUY THIS BOOK IF:
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.
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 (Manchester, UK) - See all my reviews
This review is from: The Contortionist's Handbook (Paperback)
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 (Hertford UK) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)   
This review is from: The Contortionist's Handbook (Paperback)
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 (Leeds, West Yorkshire) - See all my reviews
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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5.0 out of 5 stars A Memorable Debut, 21 Sep 2006
By 
S. Ballinger "sospot" (Derbyshire, England) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
Scooting through some of the current reviews I found myself feeling incredibly defensive about this book - a sign that the characters got under my skin.

For lovers of masculine, unemotional biogs? To think this book falls into that category underestimates Clevenger's central character spectacularly.

A Mills & Boon ending? I wouldn't know, but if the reviewer has read Mills & Boon I'm not surprised that The Contortionist's Handbook was not to their liking...

Christ - I sound harsh, but as I said I am defensive about this book!

I was hooked after 2 pages, and consumed the remainder in less than a day. Yes, the ending left was unsatisfactory, but I somehow think that was the point.

If you prefer your characters to have scars and flaws, this is the book for you. Can't wait for Clevenger's subsequent work.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Eloquent and enjoyable, 16 Aug 2009
By 
Mark Hurst (Bedfordshire) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: The Contortionist's Handbook (Paperback)
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. Palahniuk's name is on the cover, so the Fight Club comparison is inevitable, but it's an eerily apt one and at times I could almost hear Daniel Fletcher's words narrated by Edward Norton. Fletcher himself might have stepped straight out of a William Gibson story.

But none of this is criticism, because I really enjoyed the book. It is a dystopian paranoid fantasy that holds a mirror to psychiatry, offering a political critique in its savage caricature of the power games our protagonist must negotiate. If the book is ultimately disappointing, that's because the sense of mystery about Fletcher's motivation is spoiled by a rather pedestrian denoument.
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5.0 out of 5 stars The Best Debut Novel in Years, 27 Oct 2007
This review is from: The Contortionist's Handbook (Paperback)
There's more than meets the eye to this novel. From the first sentence, "I can count my overdoses on one hand." Clevenger stars concealing innumerable things and he just doesn't stop. The prose is sharp, narrated by a junkie-savant, and John Dolan Vincent's personality is enough to endear anyone to him. I still remember some scenes from this novel as sharply as though I witnessed them myself. With authors like Irvine Welsh and Chuck Palahniuk praising Craig Clevenger, it's obvious he can write. If you're looking for a great novel, and I don't mean tediously long or epic, but a great powerhouse at around 200 pages, changing edition to edition. If you're looking for a great novel, buy this. Beautiful, gritty and severe. You can't not love it.
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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
By 
Edinburrower (Edinburgh, Scotland) - See all my reviews
This book wasn't available on amazon.co.uk 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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5.0 out of 5 stars Gripping & Twisted, 14 May 2008
By 
S. Miller "Stu Miller" (London) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: The Contortionist's Handbook (Paperback)
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.
The story doesn't really take any totally unexpected turns but the writing fascinates you throughout.
For a debut novel it is simple amazing, unfortunately his 2nd book demaphoria (spelling?) is disjointed and pretty hard to read - no where near the quality of this.
Read this book if you like it edgy and different than the norm.
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The Contortionist's Handbook
The Contortionist's Handbook by Craig Clevenger (Paperback - 2006)
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