Tuesday, May 5, 2009

"Everything Hurts"

Bill Scheft, a 15-time Emmy-nominated writer for David Letterman, is the author of the novels The Ringer and Time Won't Let Me, which was a finalist for the 2006 Thurber Prize for American Humor. He has also written for the The New Yorker, the New York Times, Esquire and Sports Illustrated.

He applied the “Page 69 Test” to his new novel, Everything Hurts, and reported the following:
Everything Hurts is, simply, a book about a guy trying to get rid of a psychosomatic limp.

Phil Camp tries to pay off the rest of his alimony by writing a parody of a self-help book, Where Can I Stow May Baggage? Unfortunately, or fortunately, the world takes the books seriously and "Marty Fleck" (the name under which Phil wrote the book) becomes an international self-help guru. Embarrassed by the acclaim, Phil hides behind Marty, only emerging twice a week with a syndicated self-help newspaper column, "Baggage Handling." All is well, until Phil develops a mysterious limp, which leaves him in constant pain, even though there is nothing physically wrong with him. Desperate, he seeks the aid of Dr. Samuel Abrun, a legitimate self-help guru who wrote a legitimate book (The Power of "Ow!") that has cured thousands with mind-induced chronic pain.

Phil embraces the unorthodox methods of Dr. Abrun passionately, but manages to save some passion from his daughter, Janet, herself a doctor with her own theories. We meet Janet at one of her father’s patient discussion groups, as it turns out, on PAGE 69:

What was wrong with her? Nothing that he could see. She was slacks, t-shirt and LL Bean car-coat crisp. Two pieces of jewelry and makeup if she felt like it. Every twenty minutes or so (not that he was keeping track), she would readjust whatever was clipping or securing whatever precinct of a vast county of dark hair. Dark. If there isn't a shade at the colorist called "Fuck It -- More Black," there should be, and this would be it. The right hand made all readjustments. The left was buried just over the ear, holding up what had to be, had to be, a smart head, that spent the entire hour staring at Samuel Abrun in various arrays of skepticism.

What was wrong with her?
Read an excerpt from Everything Hurts, and learn more about the book and author at Bill Scheft's website and blog.

Check out the complete list of books in the Page 69 Test Series.

--Marshal Zeringue