|Clevenger’s The Contortionist’s Handbook|
When I was first recommended this book, I had no idea what to expect. For whatever reason, I was mainly going by the cover art and relying on that to tell me what this book was mainly about. A contortionist. Wrong. Never judge a book by it’s cover folks.
The book is about John Vincent. John is a man who suffers from such severe headaches that he usually ends up overdosing on painkillers and various prescription pills in an effort to stop the torture. When this happens, nine times out of ten, he gets picked up by paramedics and brought to the hospital in an effort to save his life. Once revived, it’s mandatory that he meets with a psychiatrist to determine whether or not the OD was accidental or an attempt to end his life. Knowing that this will most certainly happen again (as this is the only way he knows how to deal with the headaches), he’s forced to create an entirely new identity so that if he is picked up again by medics, he’s not tossed in a mental institution.
The narrative jumps all over the place from the present (a conversation with an evaluator due to his most recent overdose) to the various identities he’s stolen in the past. Usually, I can be a little thrown off by this but with the trend I’ve been taking with authors lately, it seems to be the status quo.
As good as this book was, I had this feeling that Vincent was never really in any sort of danger of being caught. The man is just so good at what he does, he seems like he’s leaps and bounds ahead of any potential threat. However, I guess that’s not really what the book is about as Clevenger seems to spend more time with his relationship with his father and the women in his life. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not complaining, I was pretty much glued to these pages throughout. It’s just, I can’t really figure out why I was.
Clevenger is an excellent writer, the man really has some talent. I’m genuinely surprised that this hasn’t been picked up by someone in Hollywood yet. It seems like the perfect movie for someone like David Fincher. I guess with the ending being some anti-climatic, it may create some problems.