David Lodge

Penguin 1996
A book review by Danny Yee © 2001
Fifty-eight year old Laurence Passmore is the script-writer for a popular television sitcom; he has plenty of money, a long-lasting marriage with successful adult children, and a platonic mistress. An "internal derangement of the knee" seems like his only real problem — but a mid-life crisis has struck and he is discovering Angst. His familiar doses of cognitive therapy, aromatherapy, and acupuncture offer no help, but he becomes obsessed with Kierkegaard. And then real problems arrive — his wife leaves him, impotence strikes, and he risks being replaced as script-writer for the sitcom. His crisis becomes a desperate hunt for sex, taking him to Tenerife and America and eventually back to his first girlfriend and the pilgrimage to Compostela.

Therapy has a pleasing unity, taking the form of Passmore's journal and other writings. The consistently maintained perspective of a comedy writer gives it a light tone and comic surface, but that never obscures the underlying seriousness. Lodge even manages to fit in an introduction to Kierkegaard's Either/Or — hardly a comic staple! — and the result is certainly a far cry from the near-slapstick Small World. Therapy is moving and pathetic as well as clever and amusing.

May 2001

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%T Therapy
%A Lodge, David
%I Penguin
%D 1996
%O paperback
%G ISBN 0140253580
%P 321pp