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The Contortionist's Handbook
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/ Lead title / Includes PS Section A stunning novel about a brilliant young forger who continually reinvents himself to escape the authorities, described by Chuck Palahniuk, bestselling author of FIGHT CLUB, as 'the best book I have read in easily five years. Easily. Maybe ten years.' / This critically acclaimed debut from Craig Clevenger garnered praise from a huge variety of pop culture commentators including Irvine Welsh, Chuck Palahniuk (author of Fight Club) and Richard Kelly, director of Donnie Darko. / The Contortionist's Handbook has been optioned by Leonardo DiCaprio's production company, Appian Way. / Competition: Chuck Palahniuk, Nick McDonnell's Twelve, Jonathan Lethem, James Frey, Jake Arnott

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.

Reviews

Clevenger's debut novel is a well-crafted but underplotted character study of a brilliant, damaged man who struggles with mental illness and substance abuse as he bounces in and out of prison and a series of hospitals around Los Angeles. Most of the novel takes place in the latter setting; some tense early scenes pit protagonist John Dolan Vincent against a psychiatrist known as "The Evaluator," who probes Vincent's psyche to see if his recent overdose of muscle relaxants was really a botched attempt to cure his migraine, as Vincent claims, or a suicide attempt. The twist is that Vincent has checked into the hospital under an assumed name; after each of his previous overdoses he has changed his identity to avoid being placed in a mental hospital. The psychiatric interview provides a decent vehicle for telling the story of Vincent's difficult family life and his decision to use his mathematical talent to assist a murky criminal network. The trouble is that Clevenger has little to offer to push his story forward besides Vincent's efforts to protect Keadra, the woman he falls in love with during a hospital stint, from the thugs who are trying to track him down. Clevenger is a solid writer who does some good work when it comes to creating a noirish atmosphere and smart, compelling characters, but the pace is uneven at best. The quality of the writing warrants a follow-up effort; hopefully, Clevenger will know what to do with his characters the next time around. (Sept.) Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.

'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]

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