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Extended Audio Sample The Contortionist’s Handbook: A Novel Audiobook, by Craig Clevenger Click for printable size audiobook cover
4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 4.00 (3,741 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Craig Clevenger Narrator: Ray Porter Publisher: Blackstone Audio Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date: January 2010 ISBN: 9781455195190
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Clevenger has produced an utterly persuasive and compelling novel, combining the zest and enthusiasm of a new voice with the craft and the guile of a veteran. 

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 Los Angeles with cinematic intensity, The Contortionist’s Handbook is a darkly hypnotic and stunningly original debut.

Download and start listening now!

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Quotes & Awards

  • “A remarkable debut.”

    Time Out New York

  • “Clevenger’s talent is revealed in his ability to create a true testament to the resilience of the human spirit.”

    USA Today

  • “Clevenger delivers images that sear themselves into your mind. The result is a novel that is hard, pure, remarkably accomplished.”

    Seattle Times

  • “Clevenger cleverly creates a modern-day Mr. Ripley.”

    Booklist

  • “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)

Listener Opinions

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Brian | 2/12/2014

    " I really liked the complexity of the book but the story did not seem to have enough conflict for my tastes. He is an excellent author and I would recommend this book to anyone that likes the transgressive genre. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Sheri | 1/14/2014

    " Very interesting. Good book to read if you're into forging documents, and changing your identity aver 6 months. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Mike | 12/16/2013

    " 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 teachers and doctors not asking the right questions or not bothering to ask any at all is paid ultimately by their child charges. In this case that life is one on the fringes of society, of criminality and mostly of fear as the motivator for most decisions. An excellent insight into the mind of a truly unique character. Good job Adrienne (book recommendations all the way from the Carolinas are what makes MySpace worthwhile), thanks. I'll be looking for more from Clevenger now. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Sean Anthony | 12/4/2013

    " Another one of my new favorite authors. Pure awesome. Fast paced, witty, and raw. This book is what good fiction is all about, real life in its gritty forms, even if through a totally unique uncommon character. In the words of D.F. Wallace, real fiction, "About being a fucking human being". This is spot on, real fiction. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Remedy Beaumont | 12/3/2013

    " I should have waited until the movie comes out. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 David Scott | 11/11/2013

    " Great story, incredible detail, awesome prose...a masterpiece of anti-heroism. As addictive as any drug for readers of transgressive fiction. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Angela | 11/6/2013

    " I heard for years what a great book this was but in the end it was decent. Not amazing, though it certainly was a page-turner at first. I found the ending to be a little too contrived and wrapped up too neatly for this sort of book, but it was still a good read. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Wa Conner | 11/6/2013

    " The Contortionist's Handbook is a novel that is stylishly written in a minimalist style that evokes Chuck Palahniuk. I've given the novel 4 stars primarily because of Clevenger's sense of style, mood, and dialogue, but unfortunately the tale never pays off with an emotionally satisfying or enlightening ending. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Tomthedog | 11/3/2013

    " Great debut novel. Darkly funny with a strikingly original and deeply messed-up main character. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Chef Goldblum | 11/2/2013

    " Best book I've read in a long time! Just Great! "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Buddy | 10/27/2013

    " As the book goes on the tension I felt of how this man was scamming people was interesting. Not knowing if he will be caught kept me on edge. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Hannah Bond | 10/11/2013

    " I would've rated this book a 5 until I got to the last page. The ending kind of made me want to hurl the book into a wall. It's good other than that! "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Jenny | 8/30/2013

    " One of the best books I've read in a long time. The beginning is intentionally confusing: stick with it, all will be revealed. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 eric | 3/25/2013

    " One of my favorites ever. So smart. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Allison | 10/6/2012

    " Very stream-of-consciousness. Super character development. Main character was neurotic and it was a trip to read his inner thoughts. Overall, good book but not much of a story line. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Dave Carraher | 8/14/2012

    " This book was great. I read this book because I saw that Chuck Palahniuk loved it, he was right. This book was screwed up. In a good way. The narrator is a drug addict, expert forger, 6 fingered man, and nutcase. This book was really good. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Maria | 7/15/2012

    " interesting opener - let's see how it goes! "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Nicholas Lubofsky | 7/2/2012

    " Reading this clever and exciting novel is like assembling a jigsaw puzzle. As you put in the final few pieces, though, you discover you've also completed a second puzzle-within-a-puzzle that you didn't even realize was there! "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Danimau | 5/14/2011

    " If you enjoyed Fight Club or Layer Cake, this will be a book you'll enjoy. Ever wondered how to not exist in society? Wanted to re-create your life? This book tells the story of someone who did exactly that.
    "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Adam | 5/6/2011

    " The word Contortionist could have also been used for the plot. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Jr | 4/11/2011

    " Fantastic book, I highly recommend this book to anyone. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Jason | 2/26/2011

    " Kind of a poor man's Chuck Palahniuk, all the insanity and list making and extreme violence and weird sex and drugs, but without Chuck's deeper questions that often lay beneath the surface of his better novels. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Timothy | 2/18/2011

    " Fans of Chuck Palahniuk praised this book highly on Chuck's fan page(The Cult). I can say, it is well worth all the hype!! Fantastic!! "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Ellen | 12/25/2010

    " A good book that I read in a day and a half. Really well written with some nice turns of phrase. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Neospooky | 11/28/2010

    " This book almost made me NOT write mine. Craig Clevenger is a mental titan who is able to keep his entire work in mind while he writes. The Contortionist's Handbook makes you think, pay attention, and is a contemprary example of the difference between literature and fiction. "

  • 1 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 5 Kathy | 11/15/2010

    " Lost interest a little more than half way through. I kept hoping it would get better so I kept reading until finally it became a chore and I couldn't bring myself to finish it. But,I do have to say that I did learn a lot about forgery from this book. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Tim | 8/25/2010

    " Maybe I'd have liked this more if I'd read it in 2001, but now it feels dated, like a more competent Chuck Pahlaniuk.
    Some nifty ID theft action, though. "

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About the Author
Author Craig Clevenger

Craig Clevenger was born in Dallas, Texas, and raised in Southern California, where he studied English at California State University, Long Beach. He currently lives in San Francisco. Dermaphoria is Clevenger’s second novel, following 2003’s word-of-mouth phenomenon The Contortionist’s Handbook.

About the Narrator

Ray Porter has garnered two Audie nominations and a multitude of enthusiastic reviews for his sparkling narration of audiobooks. He has also appeared in numerous films and television shows, including Frasier, ER, Will & Grace, The Suite Life of Zack and Cody, and Almost Famous. He has most recently received Audible’s Narrator of the Year Award. A fifteen-year veteran of the Oregon Shakespeare Festival, he lives in Los Angeles with his wife and son.