Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Everything Hurts by Bill Scheft

Disclaimer: A copy of this book was provided by Bostick Communications, for a review. The views expressed here are honest and are in no way influenced by the author or the publisher(s)

Synopsis via Google Books

Phil Camp has a problem. Not the fact that he wrote a parody of a self-help book (Where Can I Stow My Baggage?) that the world took seriously and that became an international bestseller, or that he wrote the book under a phony name, Marty Fleck, and the phony name became a self-help guru overnight. Phil cannot be Marty Fleck. He can barely be himself.

No, Phil's problem is that he has been walking with a limp for nine months. Phil is in constant pain, yet there is nothing physically wrong with his body that would cause such agony. This problem leads him to the controversial Dr. Samuel Abrun, a real doctor who wrote a real self-help book (The Power of "Ow!") that made thousands of people pain-free.

So what happens when the self-help fraud meets the genuine item? Does he 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 Abrun's unorthodox psychogenic theories passionately but manages to save some passion for Abrun's daughter, Janet, herself a doctor who has her own theories about, and remedies for, chronic pain. If all this weren't enough, Phil tries to delve further into his past with his unconventional psychotherapist, the Irish Shrink, even if it means revealing dark secrets he never remembered telling him the first two or three times. To top it all off, Phil confronts his alter ego's nemesis, right-wing radio blowhard Jim McManus, only to find out they share a common enemy -- the same family.

My review

Let me first start by saying that I did not find Everything Hurts to be as funny as it is declared in the synopsis.  The book is hinged on sarcastic one-liners and perhaps some people would find that humorous but for the most part the sheer number of these one-liners spread throughout the book really made it difficult for me to find the humor in it all.

What is very true about the book is the irony in Everything Hurts. The story centers on the character Phil Camps, who writes a book under a pseudonym (Marty Fleck) and becomes wildly popular as a self help guru. However the wildly perceived self help guru needs help of his own as he is plagued by an annoying limp that tends to act up at the worst possible times.  Camps encounters a pseudo self help guru – Dr. Abrun while on a quest to understand his pain. In the end Phil Camps/Marty Fleck turns out to be a real self help guru. Have I lost you yet?

 Honestly it is not so bad. The story moves pretty quickly and what unfolds is a dysfunctional family  dynamic that Phil Camps has to first understand and come to terms with. It’s a pretty unstable affair but the author did a good job tapping into that dark element of family life. There are spots of stability in the story though for example Camps finally falls in love after one failed marriage and a failed attempt at marriage.

I am not sure if readers will be connected to any of the characters present in Everything Hurts. In fact they are not really given a chance too. The only times that I found that the character, specifically Phil Camps is identifiable is during his sessions with his Irish Shrink Patrick O’ Reagan aka Paddy (ironically, he began his sessions with paddy during the Reagan Administration pg 46.) Usually at these times Phil Camps was most vulnerable while discussing his issues with paddy and I thought that this added much needed body to the character.

Thankfully not everyone shares my thoughts on this book. Amazon.com had some pretty positive reviews on Everything Hurts.  Feel free to check them out here.

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