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Cheerful but ultimately disposable
on 4 February 2014
This is the first Lodge I have completed; have always had some sort of an aversion to articulate but voluminous middle-aged British narrators whose own navel gazing drowns every incident of any interpretation in the sea of their own explanations and justifications. So it's a surprise that Therapy had precisely this kind of narrator but without the trappings that would send me to sleep. Part of this is because I was prepared what I was going in for (the title!) and partly because of two wonderful strokes: in the middle act, our sitcom writer takes the baton of narrating his actions from the viewpoint of the family and friends surrounding him and contains a trouser-rippingly funny monologue of his mistress confessing her experiences to her therapist. I do not think I have laughed as much with a book in hand. The other brilliant part was, at no point did the main character's journal or any post-modern tropes retard the sequence of events. There was a fair amount of incident, what with the lead character shuffling between sitcom-writing and marriage-in-crisis woes, with an endearing subplot of him discovering a kindred soul in the long dead existentialist Kirkegaard. His vague, generalised angst floats easily thanks to Lodge's snide observations of the cruel banalities of London life.
My gripe would be that the final act, which involved a fair amount of flashback and a pilgrimage, while handled sensitively and staged elaborately, still makes for an arc that felt a bit cinematic. Still, Lodge has a talent for comic writing and dialogue that I have seen the likes of Elton and Nicholls try and fail miserably. Sensitive old British lads don't come more endearing than this. Well worth a read, though it has very little to revisit.