David Lodge

Secker and Warburg 2001
A book review by Danny Yee © 2001
Thinks... is a comedy of manners set in a provincial English university. Its core is a romantic pas de deux between Ralph Messenger, womaniser and head of the Centre for Cognitive Science, and Helen Reed, a recently widowed novelist doing a stint teaching creative writing. The result is fun but not substantial: even with accompanying revelations and complications the romance is a slender basis for the novel, while Lodge's attempts to flesh it out are strained. Some discussions of philosophy of mind (consciousness and qualia) are intelligently done and some pieces produced by Helen's students (parodying leading British novelists) are entertaining, but none of them really contribute to the central story — they are, as it were, "epiphenomenal". And cancer and child pornography have awkward bit parts. Also, while Thinks... mostly consists of journal entries by and email between the two protagonists, it lapses a little jarringly into omniscient narration towards the end.

May 2001

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%T Thinks...
%A Lodge, David
%I Secker and Warburg
%D 2001
%O paperback
%G ISBN 0436280132
%P 342pp