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Phil Camp has a problem. Not that he wrote a self-help parody, Where Can I Stow My Baggage?, that the world took seriously and became a bestseller, or that he's been using a phony name. No, Phil's problem is the limp he's had for months. His constant pain leads him to Dr. Samuel Abrun, a real doctor who wrote a real self-help book (The Power of "Ow!") that has made thousands of people pain-free.So what happens when the self-help fraud meets the genuine item? Does Phil get better? Can he hobble out of his own way to help himself? Most important, can the reader make it through fifty pages without thinking, Wait a minute. Is that a twinge I feel in my lower back, or just gas?Phil embraces the doctor's unorthodox treatments, but saves some passion for Abrun's daughter Janet--who has her own theories about relieving his pain. Meanwhile, Phil delves into his dark past with the Irish Shrink, his psychotherapist. And to top it off, Phil confronts his nemesis, a right-wing radio blowhard, only to find out they share a common enemy--the same family. Like Carl Hiassen and Larry David, Bill Scheft knows that the best humor is excruciating. In Everything Hurts, pain is the ultimate jester.
Morton Martin Spell -- a once-brilliant, now-infirm seventy-five-year-old writer -- is sliding into delirium. He thinks Mount Sinai Hospital is an exclusive golf course and his catheter is a gym bag. His only link to reality is his thirty-five-year-old nephew, who makes his living as a hired gun for thirteen softball teams and still goes by the name College Boy. But College Boy's body has begun to betray him -- almost as much as his lack of ambition. (His only legitimate paycheck comes from a gig as a laugher on a morning radio show.) Not only that, the Dirt King, a small-time gangster who controls all the replacement soil in Central Park, is after College Boy. As their lives collide, College Boy takes refuge in the arms of Sheila -- his uncle's cleaning woman and a part-time call girl. And then it gets weird.
In Shrink Thyself, Charlie Traub decides to leave psychotherapy and live the unexamined life. A noble goal, which would be even more noble if his former therapist (now his friend) didn't turn out to be beyond inappropriate and his mother didn't die in a way that would have made Freud transfer to dental school. Despite all unexamined evidence to the contrary, Charlie just might be unable to accept that wherever he goes, there he is.
The five members of the Truants -- Richie, John, Brian, Jerry and Tim -- graduated from toney Chase Academy in New Hampshire 30 years ago. Before they left, they managed to record an album called "Out of Site." Nearing the age of 50, they learn that a German record collector has paid $10,000 for one copy of their work. At the urging of Dino Paradise, a grossly overweight and overly avid fan, the Truants aim to reunite and cash in. But miles from the horizon of youth, weighed down by bad marriages and mortgaged ambitions, they will have to get out of their own way to get back together. Richie, a divorce lawyer, will have to tear himself away from seducing clients with his karaoke skills. John, a dermatologist, needs to escape all the would-be patients who drop their pants at parties to ask for his advice. Tim must convince his wife to accept his drum set, which he keeps hidden in the attic the way most guys hide porn. Brian will have to step away from the thesis he's been barely trying to complete for 25 years. And all four will have to track down Jerry, a degenerate gambler/Equal addict who was last seen flying to the Caymans for his bookie with $1 million in cash taped to his body. And that's not to mention the delusional sister, the anatomically-blessed baker, a couple of vengeful spouses, Les Paul, and former J. Geils lead singer Peter Wolf.
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