Snotchocheez's Reviews > The Contortionist's Handbook

The Contortionist's Handbook by Craig Clevenger
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Jan 23, 09

Read in January, 2009

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 being a Cal State Long Beach alum on the reverse side of the book only cemented the deal for me...I had to read this book.)

I don't see the comparison to Palahniuk alluded to by many in this forum; Clevenger's voice is uniquely his own. The "contortionist" in question relates his story of having to change his identity several times in order to survive migraines and overdoses, and his account at first is somewhat difficult to follow. Like peeling the layers of an onion, we learn the protagonist's m.o. chapter by chapter, and by the end we are left with an indelible portrait of this man.

Clevenger, a Southern California dude through and through, inserts many Los Angeles-centric locations throughout his narrative that add realism, particularly if the reader is from LA (although he doesn't have to be to enjoy this book). Overall, I was quite impressed with "The Contortionist's Handbook", and look forward to reading more from Clevenger.
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