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The Contortionist's Handbook
Synopses & Reviews
The Contortionist's Handbook is the story of John Derrick Vincent, an abnormally gifted child with a proclivity for mathematics beyond his years. However, he was also born with a rare deformity — ploydactylism and his genius is counterbalanced by a near-absence of social skills and episodes of severe migraines.
As an adult his migraines occur with alarming regularity. With compulsory emergency room visits due to his repeated — and near-fatal — self-medication, Vincent knows better than to trust the doctors with his seemingly incurable illness, knowing that he is a prime candidate for institutionalization if he is ever deemed a suicide risk. Following each hospital visit, drawing upon his skills as a petty forger, he reinvents himself along and his identity.
He takes up with a criminal organization, doing forgery work, but as they become disillusioned with him he ends up facing up to the mob and alienation from the one woman with whom he has entrusted the story of the true John Derrick Vincent.
"Immaculately detailed and emotionally explosive: this is rolling, riveting stuff, of a piece with stylish, edgy movies like Memento and Requiem For a Dream." Kirkus Reviews (Starred Review)
"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." Time Out magazine
"Clevenger cleverly creates a modern-day Mr. Ripley." Booklist
"Clevenger delivers images that sear themselves into your mind. The result is a novel that is hard, pure, remarkably accomplished." The Seattle Times
John Dolan Vincent is a talented young forger with a proclivity for mathematics and drug addiction. In the face of his impending institutionalization, he invents a new identity for himself aware that, in his world, the truth will not set him free, but lock him up — or get him killed.
A forger must con his way out of a mental institution.
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