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Therapy Paperback – July 1, 1996

4.3 out of 5 stars 38 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

British satirist Lodge's latest concerns a successful sitcom writer suffering from an existential malaise.
Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Library Journal

Well known for his academic satires (e.g., Changing Places), Lodge here crafts the story of a successful sitcom writer who has everything but what he wants the most: peace of mind. Viking will be redesigning Lodge's backlist titles in a renewed promotion of his books.
Copyright 1995 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Books; 4th edition (July 1, 1996)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0140249001
  • ISBN-13: 978-0140249002
  • Product Dimensions: 5 x 0.7 x 7.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (38 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #485,486 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
David Lodge writes in such a breezy, amusing fashion that you might not think to look for anything more in _Therapy_ than a funny story about a neurotic middle aged guy. But, in fact, there is a lot going on in this book. Kierkegaard is not merely added to the plot as some sort of comic device to indicate that Tubby Passmore is off his head. This book actually explains how the thought of the "father of existentialism" is relevant to our lives in the late, late 20th century.
There is a fair amount of social class consciousness in _Therapy_. Tubby is from the working class but has made a fortune by writing a successful television series. In a certain sense he is the best that we can hope for from the nouveau riche: he is humane in spite of his wealth. His wife came from genteel poverty and has aged into a rather severe and vain woman. His friend Amy has risen from the working middle class into the show biz upper middle and more fully embraces the materialism and pretension than does Tubby. The quest to rediscover the whereabouts of his childhood girlfriend combines the themes of existentialism and class consciousness in a way that is both effortless and admirable.
The entire book is told from Tubby's point of view, written in the form of a journal and monologues. His reliability as a narrator is called into question by the content of the monologues until you realize who the author is. A very clever narrative device, but not overly clever. You don't feel manipulated because of the revelations that it produces.
I think perhaps that the only reason I have for not giving the book 5 stars is that I am not yet middle aged and so I didn't experience the Internal Derangement of the Mind that I might if (or when) I read this book 20 years from now.
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Format: Paperback
This is the humorous(!) story of a man's progress through utter depression to reconciliation with his primitive self. TV writer Tubby Passmore's rich life is falling apart, and we follow him through various trendy therapies right to the bottom. The specific prick to action is painful spasms of Mr. Passmore's knee as he tries to write his way out of a sitcom impasse. By the middle of this book he is so far gone in obsessive self-absorption that we can see his ultimate flailings only through the eyes of astonished onlookers: his wife, his Platonic lover, a script assistant, etc. A new obsession with Kierkegaard's "Existentialism" becomes a core concept in Passmore's therapeutic journal of dreaded indecision and regret. That this story of a midlife Englishman's depression is hilarious yet touching is testament to the author's skill. Wonderfully, precisely written, droll to a T, it is funny on the surface in a way comprehensible to an American (compared to Anthony Powell's humour, say). By the conclusion Passmore appears to be his old cheeky self (who was already missing as this story began), an uptempo recovery from complacency and scary mid-life crises that parallels a Continental journey from sceptical Denmark to credulous Spain.
A cute stylistic trick is to have Passmore "look up" the meaning of any unusual key word the author introduces. We learn something that way (although not ordinary Briticisms like wanker, clanger, kefuffle, yonks, phutted and pong, gazump and gobsmacked). It's curious how many out-of-print versions are listed for this book. My copy... has an unusual leathery-soft cover and rough yellowing pages; reminds me of fragile post-war Penquin books, tattered British "pulps."
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Format: Paperback
This is an excellent novel by a master of the comic serious, David Lodge. The story is covered in the back cover and other reviews, but I would add that the meaning of this novel and its structure are among the most innovative and genuinely engaging I have seen. Many postmodern novels, a term at which no doubt David Lodge would wince, are structured to allow the reader to impose his own understanding of the facts through intricate structures; but rarely are they deeply engaging. The average comic novel, though entertaining, has little to say. This work has both an elusive structure and engaging comic touches. It also has something important to say. It has the potential to become a work read 50 to 100 years from now despite the topical references to mid 1990's Britain. I won't spoil it for you because all will be revealed. Suffice it to say that our protagonist chooses to live in the present rejecting the despair of the unrecoverable past and the hopeless future.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
A remarkable book, Therapy recounts the sad-and-funny experiences of a successful fifty-something TV sitcom writer whose wife of many years suddenly abandons him. His life falls apart, he is assailed by an inexplicable mid-life angst and a puzzling knee pain that no amount of acupuncture, aromatherapy, physiotherapy, you-name-it-therapy is able to cure. The book is a classic quest for lost happiness, taking us on an unexpected and unforgettable pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela in Spain before resolution is found.

David Lodge is one of my favorite authors and along with Malcolm Bradbury, who was his closest writer friend - they're both major exponents of the campus novel genre - he is surely one of the top satirical writers of the 20th century (no, he's not dead yet - look for more masterpieces from him!)

You know what is the most surprising thing about this book? It was first published in 1995! Yes, that's some fifteen years before we started talking earnestly about Boomer Lit, with the creation of a Goodreads Group to discuss Boomer Lit. Yet Therapy is quintessential Boomer Lit. It hits on all the major points that make for a top Boomer Lit read:
- a mature adult protagonist facing a major life transition as his marriage and job unravel;
- a range of challenges that are typically those boomers are facing today;
- coping mechanisms and complex characters that are the result of a lifetime of experience.
The plot and characters are not simple, only a mature writer could have written this with the necessary depth of experience and nuances in sensibilities.
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