A Life That's Nasty, Brutish and ... Funny by ProQuest


Phil Camp, the central character of Bill Scheft's third novel, Everything Hurts, pub- lished by Simon & Schuster, is grappling with a number of significant dilemmas as the nar- rative opens. For one thing, everything does really hurt; his body is a hotbed of pain. It's localized in his leg - he has a pronounced limp at those times he can pull himself up and walk - but it gets so bad that he can't function except by lying on a wrestling mat - what he refers to as "The Pad" - laid out on the floor of his New York apartment.The pain worsened till, when the book begins, Camp's on the verge of having back surgery But the evening before the procedure, he bails out. The reason is, he's read a book by a real advice guru Dr. Samuel Abrun - called The Power of "Ow!", in which the author argues that pain is psychosomatic. The experience changes Camp's life, and he decides to become one of Abrun's patients.Then, at one of Dr. Sam's public sessions, he meets the man's daughter, Janet, herself a physician with her own ideas about the sources of pain, and that, of course, complicates matters. Add into the mix that Camp's in therapy with a man he calls the Irish Shrink, and while in analysis, he relives lots of his dysfunctional past. There's also the fact that he has a half-brother, Jim McManus, who's in the media business, a conservative blowhard featured on talk-radio who hates [Marty Fleck] (he doesn't know the man's real identity) and everything he stands for.

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