The Contortionist's Handbook by Craig Clevenger

The Contortionist's Handbook

John Vincent Dolan is a talented young forger with a proclivity for mathematics and drug addiction. In the face of his impending institutionalization, he continually reinvents himself to escape the legal and mental health authorities and to save himself from a life of incarceration. But running turns out to be costly. Vincent's clients in the L.A. underworld lose patience, the hospital evaluator may not be fooled by his story, and the only person...

Details The Contortionist's Handbook

TitleThe Contortionist's Handbook
Release DateSep 24th, 2003
PublisherMacAdam/Cage Publishing
GenreFiction, Thriller, Contemporary, Mystery, Noir, Novels

Reviews The Contortionist's Handbook

  • Paquita Maria Sanchez
    It's a good thing I didn't know about Palahniuk's praise of this neat little story before I started reading it, or it may have passed (gotten shoved) under my radar. Come to think of it, I hope I haven't prematurely spoiled any potential entertainment for you, assuming you're like me in that you hear "praise from Chuck Palahniuk!" and it sounds like "Ewww, taste this." No. Ignore that madness. This is a really strong first novel about a master do...
  • Edward Lorn
    I reread this one by way of audiobook. Ray Porter's narration was wonderful. I have no preference over text or audio, though. Read/listen to either; they're equally awesome.The Contortionist's Handbook is not easily categorized or reviewed. It's a tremendous accomplishment, both in terms of research and delivery. I never once questioned whether or not the information in this book was fact or fiction. I simply enjoyed the ride. Those of you that r...
  • Ed [Redacted]
    John Vincent is a master forger with eleven fingers, at least as many identities and debilitating migraines. He follows a pattern over the years where he suffers from his migraines until he eventually takes too much medication and is hospitalized, often as a suicide risk.Vincent has made a life of fooling those charged with evaluating the psychological states of patients hospitalized for drug overdoses, and this time he plays a game of cat and mo...
  • Bill
    I don’t know when, where or why I picked this one up, but I have had it sitting around for a long time. I didn’t read the synopsis or any reviews either. I just picked it up one day and started reading.Glad I did.It was surprisingly intelligent. Especially for a debut novel.The writing was clean and had some bite to it here and there.The characterization is what made it though. Very well done.A solid 4+ Stars.
  • Brandon Tietz
    Clevenger almost wound up as one of those guys I'd wish people would stop prattling on and on about."So brilliant.""Such a genius."And I was so incredibly sick of hearing it."Dermaphoria" was what I ended up cutting me teeth on regarding his work, and I must admit, I found myself struggling through it and wondering what all the fuss was about.That didn't stop me from picking up TCH when I finally found a copy for under $40, or more specifically, ...
  • LW
    NOME:Johnny (alias Chris,Martin,Paul,Eric,Danny )SEGNI PARTICOLARI:6 dita nella mano sinistraPROFESSIONE:"contorsionista" (o almeno è quella che piu' assomiglia alla sua straordinaria abilita') Johnny ogni tot di mesi soffre di emicranie lancinanti,e ogni volta,per cercare di alleviare quel dolore atroce,che gli infuria nella corteccia cerebrale come una sega,finisce per ingurgitare un bel po' di antidolorifici(e magari pure bourbon)e così
  • Rae
    I was disappointed with this book. It held me for the first third, then I found it irritating and tedious.The "contortionist" in the title is an accomplished forger, reinventing himself in detail to escape trouble. He takes great care with reproducing pasts in documented, legal detail. He is of superior intellect, beating the legal and healthcare systems at every encounter. He suffers from debilitating migraines and is a substance abuse.As a phys...
  • Tung
    The protagonist of this story is a twenty-something forgery artist with a photographic memory, a head for numbers, and six fingers on his left hand, and the story begins with him recounting the numerous times in his life he’s overdosed on drugs – and if you think that one sentence description is ridiculous and fascinating, you should definitely read this book, because that ain’t the half of it. John Vincent is the main character’s real na...
  • Ana
    I took up this book because it was supposed to be a good example of neo-noir genre, which I am currently interested in. And furthermore I read so many five-star reviews on it and even Palahniuk's praise. Well, now I feel I've been cheated.I really don't like criticizing. I liked the opening, the first couple of chapters were intriguing and promising, but then Mr Clevenger, you lost me. I kept reading till the end out of the respect of an author's...
  • Dave
    This book is the equivalent of that thousand-yard stare you get when you stay up until seven in the morning and are sitting outside somewhere with a headache and three cigarettes left. It's cold and it's dry, and it's unpleasant. You don't like the main character, but you're fascinated by him. And not just because Clevenger records in minute (and plausible) detail how the forger reinvents himself. Each character and event in his life is cataloged...
  • Victor
    This book was great for the first 85%. The author is impeccable in his precision, his ability to drive home the idea of a character so fanatical about staying under the radar of police and institutions that they obsess over every detail of an identity. In fact, this book is essentially a character study of an individual who is simply unable to fit in with society, who has a deep mistrust for institutions which a privileged person considers "helpf...
  • Frank
    This was a quick read on an airplane ride. It more than met my expectations for that situation. While I am no expert on either forged identities or psychiatric evals the jargon used and the details provided sounded believable (white taurus anonimity, lol). The drinking and drug abuse described would probably render the protagonist more like the homeless kid whose identity he buys (Stove) than the superhuman flawed genius that narrates the story. ...
  • Wendy Ortiz
    This book invaded my dreams & I noticed my body was veeeeery uneasy every time I sat down to read it, which I both dig and admire.
  • Adam
    I only gave this four stars because I feel strange giving five stars to a book about a six-fingered, drug-abusing guy who forges identity paperwork on a constant basis, changing his name, address, and everything else to stay one step ahead of the psychiatrists, counselors, police officers, and drug-running gangsters who all (whether they know it or not) want to figure out what this guy is really about. Oh, and he has pretty consistent, ridiculous...
  • Jason Moss
    Don't get me wrong, this is a thoroughly enjoyable book. But, given the lavish praise from the pantheon of twisted, dark literature -- Chuck Palahniuk and Irvine Welsh -- I expected it would blow my mind. That didn't quite happen.Written as memoir that ping-pongs between the present and the past, the book focuses on John Dolan Vincent, a polydactyl, forger and spacial math brainiac, whose tendency to self-medicate his debilitating "godsplitter" h...
  • Anya
    Goodreads tells me that I've read 662 books so far. And it's safe to say that I haven't read anything like this one ever in my life. :') Talk about having your brain blown to bits because so much awesomeness.
  • Colin McKay Miller
    Craig Clevenger’s The Contortionist’s Handbook is a lean read with infectious language, but it feels like most of the tension also got cut.The novel is told from the perspective of John Dolan Vincent, a brilliant six-fingered forger who has spent his life moving between identities. Vincent gets monstrous headaches—“godsplitters” he calls them—and a near-fatal overdose pits him against a psychiatric evaluator to avoid being institution...
  • Hilary
    I was a bit hesitant to read this book when I heard that Chuck Palahniuk had praised it rather readily. As much as I like Palahniuk as a person, his experimental writings can get a bit old after a while and I'm not much for the shock literature that he is known for any longer. Nonetheless, this book intrigued me and has been lurking around the outskirts of my mind as a must-read for far too long now. My own curiosity, and my friend Sasha's high ...
  • Snotchocheez
    This is one book that you certainly cannot judge by its cover, although it certainly piqued my interest. You don't really know what to expect when you see "A Contortionists Handbook" followed by a sepia-toned picture of a man bending his legs at the knees at right angles from the rest of his body, followed by a hearty endorsement from none other than Chuck Palahniuk, all on the front cover. (Throwing in a note about the author Craig Clevenger bei...
  • Bandit
    Very interesting book. John Vincent isn't a contortionist in a traditional i.e. jacket photo way, but he does contort himself inside different identities every 6 months or so. This book is really more of a identity thief/forger handbook and the author goes into frightening amount of detail on the subject. It's the sort of book I wasn't sure I liked very much until the very end and then it became apparent that this story is genuinely different and...
  • Treplovski
    I haven't written a review of this book yet. I was too bewildered and amazed to do more than stammer, my god, you have to read this book! I'm pretty good with words, but to review The Contortionist's Handbook is like trying to explain unconsciousness to someone who's never blacked out. …I'll try later.
  • Cenhner Scott
    El que se ponga a leer esto porque leyó las alabanzas que le hizo Palahniuk, sepa esto: este libro no tiene un pito en común con nada de Palahniuk. Al tipo le gustó el libro, pero nada más, es como que Miley Cyrus diga que le gusta Joni Mitchell. Si estás esperando leer algo parecido a Palahniuk, este libro no va. (Probá con Osvaldo Lamborghini).El argumento es copado: un tipo con mucha memoria y muy inteligente aprovecha su sapiencia para ...
  • Kara
    I liked this a bunch. Very Palahniuk-esque, without the feeling that the author loathes me.
  • Josh Gaines
    I just finished this book of the above name, by Craig Clevenger. I read it pretty much purely because Chuck Palaniuk told me to. Kinda. He said this about it several years ago, “I swear to God this is easily the best book I’ve read in 5 years. Easily. Maybe 10 years.” I have a hunch that Chuck is actually friends with Craig and was just being extra friendly by saying this in order to sell more copies, as Chuck has a much larger fan base. An...
  • Brandon
    When I was first recommended this book, I had no idea what to expect. For whatever reason, I was mainly going by the cover art and relying on that to tell me what this book was mainly about. A contortionist. Wrong. Never judge a book by it's cover folks.The book is about John Vincent. John is a man who suffers from such severe headaches that he usually ends up overdosing on painkillers and various prescription pills in an effort to stop the tortu...
  • Isaac Cooper
    What a load of post-modern crap. This is absolute drivel of the highest order. You couldn’t pay me to keep reading this. I actually wanted to scream at this book. I hated it. Hated everything about it, the prose, the lack of a sympathetic - or at the very least engaging - character, the story, everything. The book keeps going on about how this guy creates false identities, and while it may be technically accurate, while the author may have read...
  • jack
    an excellent read. the contortionist's handbook was about John Dolan Vincent; a drug addict, a mathematical genius, a man in love, and an unbelievably gifted forger who creates new identites for himself to avoid getting incarcerated. many reviewers have compared craig clevenger's writing style to chuck palahniuk's; i didn't really see it. i mean, sure, it's just as edgy, stylized, and twisted as palahniuk's library, but i must say ...clevenger's ...
  • Evelyn
    The Contortionist's Handbook is one of those books that just hooks you in from the very beginning and carries you on a weird and wonderful journey. The protagonist, John, is a typical down and out type from an outsider's point of view. He's someone you're naturally wired to hate, but through his charisma and intelligence, you just can't help but love him. The phrase 'own worst enemy' immediately springs to mind. John's a master forger who can per...
  • Sophie
    I got this book years ago as a gift by a person who apparently never knew me well because while this is not a bad book per se, it just isn't something I really enjoy reading about. The Contortionist's Handbook is something of a neo-noir thriller that tells the story of Daniel Fletcher/Christoher Thorne/Eric Bishop, but really John Vincent, a master forger who suffers from strong migraines that get him taken to the hospital every few months. I was...
  • Mike
    After overdosing on pain killers Daniel Fletcher is being interviewed by a psychiatrist in a hospital. The doctor is trying to determine whether or not the OD was an intentional suicide attempt. Through the interview you're given a glimpse into the life of Daniel Fletcher. Fletcher isn't his name, just one of the many identities he's taken over a long and strange life as a counterfieter and forger. This book shows that that price for parents and ...