The Contortionist’s Handbook

Craig Clevenger

A stunningly intense debut novel about a talented young forger who continually reinvents himself to escape the authorities. ‘I swear to God this is the best book I have read in easily five years. Easily. Maybe ten years.’ Chuck Palahniuk, author of Fight Club

Following a near fatal overdose of painkillers, Daniel Fletcher is resuscitated in a Los Angeles emergency room and detained for psychiatric evaluation. Through a series of questions and tests, the psychiatrist must ascertain whether the patient intended to kill himself, or whether he can walk free. What the psychiatrist doesn’t know is that ‘Daniel Fletcher’ is actually John – Johnny – Dolan Vincent, a brilliant young forger who continually changes his identity to save himself from a lifetime of incarceration. Johnny has done such assessments before – many, many times.

As he creates an elaborate bluff for the evaluator, Johnny reveals the true story of his traumatic past – a broken family, descent into the sinister world of forgers and criminals, and his one chance of salvation in the beautiful and elusive Molly. But time is running out; as his underworld clients lose patience and the psychiatrist’s net closes around him, Johnny has to negotiate the escape act of his life.

Evoking the boulevards and strip bars of 1980s LA with cinematic intensity, The Contortionist’s Handbook is a darkly hypnotic and stunningly original debut.

Reviews of The Contortionist’s Handbook

    • ‘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
    • ‘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
    • ‘Craig Clevenger has crafted an unforgettable antihero in John Dolan Vincent. This is an extraordinary debut.’ Richard Kelly, director of Donnie Darko
    • ‘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