19 March 2007


I started to reread Therapy by David Lodge this weekend. I read it first when it was published - well, when the paperback came out: probably about 1996, then lent it to a colleague who never returned it. Now, having procured a replacement and having lent it to another friend (who did return it), I need to reacquaint myself with it so I can discuss it sensibly with Grace in a few weeks' time in Chicago, for INTA.

When first I read it, the book spoke to me very clearly about mid-life crisis, and I well remember about the same time (at INTA in San Diego: my years are measured by INTA, and I have trouble accounting for the ones I missed - Boston, Amsterdam, San Diego 2005) being tempted to buy some article - a coffee cup, probably - bearing a slogan about life not merely passing one by, but doing so in a red convertible. I am not exactly pleased to find that the book is no less relevant to me today.

In fact, in many ways it has even greater relevance. Not only am I closer to the hero's (or should it be anti-hero's) age (though still several years short of it), but on Saturday I had two different sorts of therapy, having developed a knee problem similar to that suffered by Lawrence "Tubby" Passmore in the book, where it is referred to as Internal Derangement of the Knee, or IDK for short: I Don't Know. And, as if to back that up, Suzy the physiotherapist (on my third visit, in the course of which she tries acupuncture: I resisted the temptation to write "has a stab at": so, actually three types of therapy in one day) fears it might be a cartilage problem (so I should have it x-rayed), but Sharon (sports massage, my first visit for several years) reckons it is tendonitis, as Suzy originally thought. IDK.

What I do know is that after a good mauling from Sharon I feel a great deal better, although I do fall fast asleep in the afternoon. I also know that I am ploughing through Lodge at a tremendous rate, delighted to rediscover all that stuff about Kierkegaard, envious of Tubby's London flat - I rather wish I hadn't given mine up, though it was a simple matter of economics - and more determined than ever to get writing myself.

There are several more reasons why the book resonates so exactly, several of which require a fictional disguise if they are ever to be written down, but one of which is obvious and needs no hiding. Since my first reading of the book, Hilary had to endure chemotherapy - twice - and radiotherapy. (She was taken ill, incidentally, immediately after INTA in San Antonio.) I'm keen - anxious, even - to find out how the latter part of the book affects me now.

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