Some books make me want to tell everyone how good they are, which is why I'm writing this review. 'Therapy' combines a page-turning story with the kind of sharp observations of daily life that made me laugh with recognition.
Laurence - Tubby - is a wealthy, successful television scriptwriter with a happy marriage and family life, a beautiful family home plus flat in London, friends, security, and the car of his dreams. He also has a crippling condition which defies diagnosis and cure, and which he calls IDK - 'Internal Derangement of the Knee' or 'I Don't Know'. This condition seems symptomatic of a mysterious Internal Derangement of his Life as he approaches his late-fifties, which expresses itself in various forms, such as the Low Frustration Tolerance which gives rise to many hilarious episodes as he meets with stupid notices, out-of-order escalators, barriers that come down just as he gets to them, and the many absurdities and paradoxes of life at the end of the twentieth century. His attempts to understand his condition take him on journeys across the Atlantic and through Europe, as well as philosophical journeys through the works of Kirkegaard and his constant reference to dictionaries and encyclopaedias.
David Lodge's fascination with the craft of novel-writing shows in the surprising twists and turns of the novel, as Laurence tells his own story from different angles, exploring his derangements. In the end, having tried every therapeutic approach from surgery to cognitive behavioural therapy, acupuncture to physiotherapy, Laurence has to become his own therapist. I would guess that I am not alone in recognising my own derangements in this novel and taking pleasure in finding that this fine novelist has mapped out the territory with breathtaking accuracy and wonderful humour.