The Absent Therapist
To read this book is to be drawn into a kaleidophone of voices, first-person narrative fragments, tiny stories bearing the impress of larger, untold stories; wry observations unknowingly made by unobservant people, anecdotes with perfectly deflating punch-lines, almost-jokes that meticulously leave off at being almost-jokes without aspiring to be jokes; gauche quips, mundane miseries treated with both sympathy and humour; small lives writ small and at once satirised and celebrated for their smallness; an encyclopedic accumulation of human experiences of the kind that usually evanesce without being recorded even in the experiencers’ memories let alone on paper. All these thousands of voices are captured pitch-perfectly by Eaves, who, with a cold eye and a warm heart, and with an unbelievably sensitive ear for what all sorts of people say and how they say it (or, what they think and how they think it), has written a very enjoyable book that manages to be both sharp and blunt at the same time to the extent that the distinction between sharp and blunt has been removed.
Shortlisted for the Goldsmiths Prize 2014 'The Absent Therapist is a miniature but infinite novel, and unlike anything I've read before. It's just achingly good.' Luke Kennard The Absent Therapist is a book of soundings, a jostle of voices that variously argue, remember, explain, justify, speculate and meander ...Sons and lovers, wanderers, wonderers, stayers, leavers, readers and believers: 'The biggest surprise of all is frequently that things and people really are as they seem.' 'These are gripping narratives, with intriguing shifts of register, but they are also technically experimental and daring. Each sentence is weighed, poised. The intelligence with which Will Eaves handles language is modest and rare. The absent therapist is the listening reader to whom this compelling book is a fabulous gift.' Patricia Duncker 'The whole book is like someone deeply charismatic and charming daring you not to find them insane. It's wonderful.' Nicholas Lezard, The Guardian 'I was gripped and awed by Will Eaves's The Absent Therapist, touching, addictive and unlike any other book.' Thomas Ades, TLS 'Books of the Year'
Will Eaves is the author of three novels (most recently, This Is Paradise, Picador, 2012) and a collection of poems (Sound Houses, Carcanet, 2011). He was Arts Editor of the Times Literary Supplement from 1995 to 2011, and now teaches at Warwick University.