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The Treatment Hardcover – May 19, 1998


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 269 pages
  • Publisher: Knopf; 1st American ed edition (May 19, 1998)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0679422064
  • ISBN-13: 978-0679422068
  • Product Dimensions: 8.4 x 5.9 x 1.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 4.8 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (24 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,089,322 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

At 32, Jake Singer is trapped inside not only his own thoughts but also those of his antic, hectoring psychiatrist, a "madman privateer for whom conservative Freudianism was merely a flag of convenience." In between his triweekly skirmishes with the malaprop-slinging Dr. Morales, Jake does manage to carry on: he teaches at Coventry, a New York City private school, and has a small trust fund and an adequate Upper West Side apartment. Yet the protagonist of Daniel Menaker's first novel is increasingly alone. He hasn't seen his doctor father in four years, his mother died when he was six, and his most recent girlfriend left him. "I wasn't so crazy that I didn't know how boring my plight would be to most people," he later realizes. "Even the banality of evil is outstripped by the banality of anxiety neurosis." In fact, there's nothing remotely banal about Jake's anxiety, which Menaker makes both very real and very, very funny.

Though Dr. Morales is dead-on about his patient's inertia, his antic method gives the term critical care (not to mention shrink wrap) new meaning. Indeed, Jake and his doctor's hostilities are both hilarious and deeply painful, skidding between progress and "emotional vivisection." Is the foul-mouthed, foul-minded Morales a sport of psychiatric nature, or is he on the right track? Neither patient nor reader will ever be quite sure, though Jake does come out of his long slump, inheriting the responsibility for his own life--and those of several others.

The Treatment ruffles with comic energy and risky shifts, but also with something increasingly rare in fiction--tenderness. Menaker, unlike his protagonist, seems unafraid of emotion and has a perfect ear for the momentary exchange that simultaneously reveals and conceals all. He can also dish up epigrams with the best of them. Jake turns Wallace Stevens's hieratic pronunciamento into a surprising home truth: "If death is in fact the mother of beauty, she never spends any time with her kids." Any reader interested in the fresh pleasures of language, character, and sharp social landscaping should look no further. The Treatment is both a merry novel about loss and a melancholy fiction about the pleasures of intimacy--sexual, familial, and, of course, therapeutic.

From Publishers Weekly

Menaker's clever, very funny and surprisingly tender first novel is a triumphant satire of Freudianism gone amok, a touching love story and a quintessential picture of New York life. In the annals of intellectual urban existence at the end of the 20th century, 32-year-old Jake Singer's lonely, anxiety-filled daily routine qualifies as an existential hell. Just passed over as head of the English department at Coventry, a prestigious Manhattan prep school, estranged from his cold father, still subconsciously guilty about his mother's death when he was six, unable to connect emotionally with a woman, Jake is locked in combat with the devil in the form of psychiatrist Dr. Ernesto Morales. The black-bearded, Cuban-born, devoutly Catholic Morales has put his personal stamp on the psychoanalytic process that he calls "the treatment": he is aggressively confrontational, vociferously opinionated and invariably accusatory as he hectors Jake in hilariously accented, "flamboyantly Spanished" diatribes designed to keep his patient intimidated. Even when Jake is not being bullied by Morales in person, he hears the doctor's voice in his head, in tandem with his own typically sardonic replies. But Jake's life undergoes an astonishing transformation when he meets wealthy socialite widow Allegra Marshall at a Coventry fund-raiser, and the two?beautiful WASP and "neurotic secular atheist Jew"?begin a passionate affair. Fate brings them into contact with a young woman living in the Berkshires (this gives Menaker another chance to depict the residents and terrain of his memorable collection of short stories, The Old Left). In a series of (perhaps too convenient) coincidences, Jake initiates acts of courage, reconciliation and healing, meanwhile achieving his own fulfillment. Menaker's supple command of language, his witty turns of phrase and riposte-sharpened dialogue are informed by an ironic eye, a wryly compassionate understanding of human frailties and a skeptical but also guardedly hopeful appraisal of the human condition. (June) FYI: Menaker, formerly a senior editor at the New Yorker, is a senior editor at Random House.
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc.

More About the Author

I was born in in New York City in 1941, to a mother, Mary Randolph Grace, a Bryn Mawr classics major from a fancy WASP family, and a father whose parents refused to marry because they were radicals and believed that marriage was a form of State oppression. His name was Robert Owen Menaker and his six brothers also bore utopian names--William Morris Menaker, Frederick Engels Menaker, Nicholas Chernechevsky Menaker, and so on. I attended the Little Red Schoolhouse in Greenwich Village, Nyack High School, Swarthmore College, and the Johns Hopkins University, where I earned a Master's Degree in English Literature. I taught high-school English for two years and went on to work as a fact checker, copy editor, and editor for The New Yorker Magazine. After twenty-six years at The New Yorker, I became an editor at Random House and eventually was named Editor-in-Chief. I've worked with David Foster Wallace, Salman Rushdie, Nassim Taleb, Curtis Sittenfeld, Michael Chabon, Michael Cunningham, Janet Malcolm, Elmore Leonard, Jonathan Kellerman, Elizabeth Strout, Colum McCann, Jennifer Egan, Daniel Silva, Billy Collins, George Saunders, and many, many others.

I married author and New York Times editor Katherine Bouton in 1980, and we have two children, a boy (now a young man) named William Michael Grace Menaker, the "Michael Grace" being my late brother's name--he died when he was twenty-nine and I was twenty-six--and a girl (now a young woman), Elizabeth Grace Menaker. Will is book publishing and Elizabeth is a social worker.

I have written six books, two of them New york Times Notable titles and one of them the basis of a movie called "The Treatment," with Ian Holm and Famke Janssen. I've also written humor and articles, reviews, and essays for many, many publications, including, most prominently, The New Yorker. One of my humor pieces, "The Worst" was blessed with a fan letter from Groucho Marx. I've served on the Board of the Poetry Foundation, conducted a six-episode online author-interview program, titlepage.tv, in other venues (PEN Symphony Space, the Brooklyn Academy of Music) have interviewed dozens of writers, am a professor in the MFA program at Stony Brook University, have taught a humor-writing course at Columbia, and have traveled to Nepal and the country of Georgia on cultural missions for the United States State Department.

I can sing "Take Me Out to the Ballgame" one note behind the melody. My family has a dog named Maxwell, named after my teacher at Tne New Yorker, William Maxwell. I captained Swarthmore's soccer team to a 2-10 record my senior year. I have shaken hands with Muhammad Ali, who gave me an autograph to give to my son.

For more than five years I have fought lung cancer, for the time being successfully, And you had better knock wood for me right now, unless you are in the Tea Party and don't care for the cut of my political jib. My blog, seriously outdated right now and consisting in the last few years of a series of conversations about medical treatment, can be found at danielmenaker.com.

My new book, a memoir called "My Mistake," will be published by Houghton Mifflin in November of 2013.

If you've gotten this far, thank you for your patience, however inexplicable.

Customer Reviews

The voice of the hero is natural, wry, and intimate.
wrichick@aol.com (Jody Carr)
Now I know I may be "overselling" this book but I highly recommend it as a wonderful urban, contemporary read.
Richard Kurtz
For me, the book gets better the further it gets from the analysis at the beginning.
Mary Bishop

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Sara E Kelley on November 15, 2000
Format: Paperback
This book realistically and humorously portrays the analyst-patient relationship, although the analyst character, Dr. Morales, is drawn with extreme hyperbole. I disagree with the reviewers who found Jake's constant correction of Dr. Morales's English to be racist. Actually, I think this makes *Jake* look priggish, stubborn, and "resistant," and that that was precisely the author's intention. Unfortunately, although I found this book extremely entertaining, at the end the plot relies too heavily on unbelievable coincidences to wrap things up; it appears that Menaker just couldn't think of a more credible way to get his characters out of the mess he got them into.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By JT on June 2, 1999
Format: Paperback
Menaker has an original concept, and a good handle on the higjly implausible, but no less hilarious character of Dr. Morales, the eccentric, Spanish therapist treating Jake Singer, the story's narrator. Jake is in his early thirties, a teacher at a local Manhattan prep school and suffering from defeatism and despair. The author never really delves into the cause of this dubious psychosis, other than having Morales connect it to the early death of Jake's mother and his estrangement from his father, and the overall book is diminished slightly for it. On the other hand, watching Morales obnoxiously push Jake to overcome his problems, while seemingly, paradoxically, encouraging them, is the meat of the novel, funny, touching and provocative. Is Dr. Morales really trying to cure Jake, or is he actually dependent on him, as Jake sometimes thinks, and reluctant to declare him finished with the treatment? As Jake begins to achieve success, both professionally and in his love life, Morales seems more determoned than ever to keep Jake in treatment. Jake wonders, as does the reader, if Morales might be living vicariously though him, especially when he insists on intimate details of every sexual act Jake and his new lover perform. The verbal fencing between therapist and patient is always witty and often revealing, and raises interesting questions about the nature of therapy and of the patient/therapist dynamic. Menaker graciously declines to give any concrete evidence concerning Dr. Morale's possibly conflicted motives, which allows the reader to either agree with Jake or not.Read more ›
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Richard Kurtz on September 15, 1998
Format: Hardcover
You know how you get a feeling about a book --it's cover design, the description on the jacket, some aspect of the book that kind of gets you interested. Well, that's what happened with The Treatment. Maybe I'm a sucker for short titles or whatever but this book really delivered and offers a highy involving, entertaining and quite funny read while presenting, at least it did to me, a great many ideas and thoughts about what this whole thing we do, called living, is all about. Now I know I may be "overselling" this book but I highly recommend it as a wonderful urban, contemporary read.And I can't wait for the author to write his next novel.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on September 2, 1999
Format: Paperback
This novel is funny, sad, and very moving. The language is wonderful. I do agree with other readers that the book gets somewhat bogged down by the story within the story. The twists and turns at the end make up for it though. The writing style of the subplot is so much inferior to the first person narrative though..it was very strange and a little confusing to figure out what was actually going on. I did tire of the way the narrator corrected Morales english..I thought that bordered on racism and patronizing..but i have to admit I did laugh at a lot of the time. Overall I found the book refreshing and the discussion of the strained relations between son and dad very very moving. Certainly the whole thing was uneven, but it was one of the most adult, entertaining works I"ve read in a long while. I highly recommend this novel.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Mary Bishop on February 13, 1999
Format: Hardcover
For me, the book gets better the further it gets from the analysis at the beginning. Instead of blaming others and fretting about his little problems, Jake learns to forgive and open up to the world. Menaker writes unusually well about children, as in the scene where Jake reads to Emily. The last sentence is generous, hopeful and attentive to the mysteries that support us.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Donald R. Fleck on February 14, 2002
Format: Paperback
I couldn't stop laughing. While Menaker describes an outlandish psychoanalytic treatment that greatly lightened my reading for a few days, at the same time he subtly and accurately shows a patient progressing within it. Or in opposition to it.
Any therapist will enjoy this send-up about "the last Freudian," as will anyone who has spent some time on the couch.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on June 2, 1999
Format: Paperback
Menaker has an original concept, and a good handle on the higjly implausible, but no less hilarious character of Dr. Morales, the eccentric, Spanish therapist treating Jake Singer, the story's narrator. Jake is in his early thirties, a teacher at a local Manhattan prep school and suffering from defeatism and despair. The author never really delves into the cause of this dubious psychosis, other than having Morales connect it to the early death of Jake's mother and his estrangement from his father, and the overall book is diminished slightly for it. On the other hand, watching Morales obnoxiously push Jake to overcome his problems, while seemingly, paradoxically, encouraging them, is the meat of the novel, funny, touching and provocative. Is Dr. Morales really trying to cure Jake, or is he actually dependent on him, as Jake sometimes thinks, and reluctant to declare him finished with the treatment? As Jake begins to achieve success, both professionally and in his love life, Morales seems more determoned than ever to keep Jake in treatment. Jake wonders, as does the reader, if Morales might be living vicariously though him, especially when he insists on intimate details of every sexual act Jake and his new lover perform. The verbal fencing between therapist and patient is always witty and often revealing, and raises interesting questions about the nature of therapy and of the patient/therapist dynamic. Menaker graciously declines to give any concrete evidence concerning Dr. Morale's possibly conflicted motives, which allows the reader to either agree with Jake or not.Read more ›
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