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Book review: The Contortionist's Handbook 
20th-Aug-2010 12:11 pm
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Another free book from "Summer Reads" week this time, so a more recent one - Craig Clevenger's The Contortionist's Handbook. It's metaphorical contortion, as the narrator has spent his life expertly changing his identity every 18 months or so in an effort to stay clear of the authorities - partly because he's had some run-ins with the law, but also largely because he suffers from occasional migraines that sometimes cause him to accidentally overdose on painkillers, and he's terrified of being sectioned as a suicide risk. The story is framed after one such near-miss as the narrator is being assessed by a psychiatrist. Although the lead is no angel, the real target of Clevenger's satire is the assessor, who in this case is a qualified doctor but we're assured could well have been a bored trainee, and the subject is how much someone's life can depend on a stranger's, often biased, judgement.

The book was OK but I didn't love it - the tone tends towards the monotonous, and a major change in the narrator's motivation near the end is a bit of a cheat as a twist, since the circumstances behind it aren't revealed until quite late. Nominally set in the 1980s, I also didn't get much of a sense of period from it. Ultimately I couldn't quite engage with it and don't think I'll be seeking out the author's other books.
Comments 
20th-Aug-2010 06:18 pm (UTC)
Blimey how do you keep up! Umpteen books and shows a week - where do you find time :o)x
21st-Aug-2010 09:59 am (UTC)
I read the books on the bus/tube to and from the theatre.
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