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Having achieved the age of 60, I find I only have two great dreams left in life. the first, undoubtedly widely shared, is to play Purple Rain in a packed stadium in a downpour. The second, probably more limited, is to be on the receiving end of a Jurgen Klopp hug.

Donald Antrim's short novel, The Verificationist, features a hug even more epic than one of the Liverpool coach's. It is administered in the midst of a pancake house gathering of psychoanalysts to the notoriously childish narrator of the story, Tom, who is about to start a food fight. His peers find his practical jokes and antics exhausting, so Richard Bernhardt, the bearish senior figure among them, picks Tom up and locks him in a somewhat homoerotic embrace that lasts the next 150 pages. This triggers some kind of psychic break in Tom, who floats up towards the ceiling and contemplates his inability to grow up and to make decisions, particularly to make the commitment to his wife that would see them have a child. He suffers a kind of paralysis by analysis--which even saw him unable to decide what to order for dinner--and proceeds to over-analyze his immaturity to no good effect. He is eventually joined floating around the ceiling by various likewise useless colleagues and by a young waitress who he decides to seduce.

Mr. Antrim has written extensively about his own struggles with mental illness, hospitalizations, electroconvulsive therapy, even attempted suicide. To the extent that this is all a send up of the psychiatric profession, it's pretty funny. But since the parody depends on the ineffectiveness of Tom practicing analysis upon himself, it's also kind of frustrating. If the book were any longer, it would become deadly. If it were a bit shorter it wouldn't lose anything. As is, it's enjoyable enough but will leave you wanting some pancakes and a hug.


Grade: (B-)


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General Literature
Donald Antrim Links:

    -WIKIPEDIA: Donald Antrim
    -ENTRY: Antrim, Donald 1959(?)- (
    -CONTRIBUTOR: Donald Antrim (Granta)
    -CONTRIBUTOR: Donald Antrim (The New Yorker)
    -AUTHOR PAGE: Donald Antrim (Macmillan)
-PODCAST: Andrew O’Hagan Reads Donald Antrim (With Deborah Treisman, September 1, 2023, The New Yorker)
    -WIKIPEDIA: The Verificationist
    -BOOK SITE: The Verificationist (MacMillan)
    -INTRODUCTION: to The Verificationist (George Saunders)
    -EXCERPT: Chapter One of The Verificationist
    -ESSAY: Finding a Way Back from Suicide: A journey of recovery through electroconvulsive therapy. (Donald Antrim, The New Yorker)
    -ESSAY: The Solace of My Suit Closet: My mother was an eccentric fashion designer. When she died, I began to understand the transformative power of clothes. (DONALD ANTRIM, October 5, 2020, GQ)
    -EXCERPT: Elect Mr. Robinson for a Better World (Donald Antrim, SUMMER 1993, Paris Review)
    -AUDIO: Donald Antrim Reads Donald Barthelme (Deborah Treisman, WNYC)
    -ESSAY: My uncle, my self: He was a bus ride across the Everglades, and a haven from a stormy home life. Donald Antrim worshipped his uncle Eldridge till one hot night on a Florida porch (Donald Antrim, 16 Feb 2007, The Guardian)
    -ESSAY: Black Mountain, 1977 (Donald Antrim, December 17, 2000, The New Yorker)
    -ESSAY: I Bought A Bed (Donald Antrim, June 9, 2002, The New Yorker)
    -ESSAY: A.K.A. Sam (Donald Antrim, February 9, 2003, The New Yorker)
    -ESSAY: Ad Nauseam (Donald Antrim, April 13, 2003, The New Yorker)
    -ESSAY: Church (Donald Antrim, December 14, 2003, The New Yorker)
    -ESSAY: The Kimono (Donald Antrim, March 7, 2004, The New Yorker)
    -ESSAY: A Man in the Kitchen (Donald Antrim, Aug. 26th, 2007, The New Yorker)
    -ESSAY: Fed (Donald Antrim, Oct. 27th, 2013, The New Yorker)
    -ESSAY: The Unprotected Life,/a> (Donald Antrim, Jul. 16th, 2015, The New Yorker)
-ESSAY: Everywhere and Nowhere: A Journey Through Suicide (Donald Antrim, Feb. 11th, 2019, The New Yorker)
    -PROFILE: Donald Antrim and the Art of Anxiety (John Jeremiah Sullivan, Sept. 17, 2014, NY Times Magazine)
    -INTERVIEW: Treating Books Badly: PW Talks with Donald Antrim (Mike Harvkey, Jun 21, 2012, Publishers Weekly)
    -INTERVIEW: Interview with Donald Antrim (failbetter, Winter/Spring 2001)
    -INTERVIEW: Back from the Land: The Millions Interviews Donald Antrim (Lydia Kiesling September 3, 2014, The Millions)
    -INTERVIEW: Congratulations, Donald Antrim (Deborah Treisman, September 25, 2013, The New Yorker)
    -VIDEO INTERVIEW: Donald Antrim | One Friday in April: A Story of Suicide and Survival (In conversation with Jonathan Franzen, 10/21/21, Free library of Philadelphia)
    -VIDEO READING: Donald Antrim "The Emerald Light in the Air" (Politics and Prose, 9/21/14)
    -VIDEO INTERVIEW: One Friday in April: Suicide and Survival with Donald Antrim & John Freeman (Litquake's 2021 Festival, 10/13/21)
    -VIDEO INTERVIEW: On America: Donald Antrim on One Friday in April (With Deborah Treisman, Nov 15, 2021, Center for Fiction)
    -AUDIO INTERVIEW: Donald Antrim (Hosted by Michael Silverblatt, Jul. 13, 2000, KCRW Bookworm)
    -AUDIO INTERVIEW: CoastLine: Donald Antrim On Losing Conceits, The Physicality Of Mental Illness,/a> (Rachel Lewis Hilburn, Rachel Keith, February 8, 2019, WHQR)
-INTERVIEW: Donald Antrim (Thomas Bolt, Jan 1, 1997, Bomb)
    -PROFILE: Spreading the word about author Donald Antrim (Associated Press, Sep 25, 2012)
    -INTERVIEW: The Day Civility Died: Donald Antrim Identity: Intensely Earnest 35-Year-Old Author. (Degen Pener, Oct. 10, 1993, NY Times)
    -PROFILE: Writer Donald Antrim Shares Raw Details of His Suicidal Illness to Help Others 'Trying to Stay Alive': The acclaimed author hopes that demystifying suicide will help get people to treatment (Sandra Sobieraj Westfall, October 07, 2021, People)
    -INTERVIEW: Donald Antrim’s Book Speaks Directly to Those Suffering With Depression: The Author of One Friday in April Takes the Lit Hub Questionnaire (Literary Hub, October 12, 2021)
    -INTERVIEW: Writer Donald Antrim talks about depression and getting help in new memoir: His book, 'One Friday in April,' like William Styron’s classic 'Darkness Visible,' addresses the issue of mental health. ( STUART MILLER, October 16, 202, OC Register)
    -INTERVIEW: With His New Book, Donald Antrim Wants to Change How We Think About Suicide: Antrim, who was born in Sarasota in 1958, has published three novels, a short story collection and a memoir. His new book, One Friday in April: A Story of Suicide and Survival, comes out later this month. (Cooper Levey-Baker, October 1, 2021, Sarasota)
    -VIDEO ARCHIVES: "donald antrim" (YouTube)
    -ESSAY: Constructed Space in Donald Antrim's Trilogy (Brian Evenson, Dans Revue française d’études américaines)
    -REVIEW ESSAY: Woes Make the Man: Donald Antrim’s surreal existential triptych (JUSTIN TAYLOR, Summer 2012, BookForum)
    -REVIEW ESSAY: Elect Donald Antrim for a Better World (Lydia Kiesling, July 27, 2012, The millions)
    -REVIEW: of The Verificationist by Donald Antrim (Publishers Weekly)
    -REVIEW: of The Verificationist (George Saunders, Salon)
    -REVIEW: of The Verificationist (Dwight Garner, NY Times)
    -REVIEW: of The Verificationist (Joshua Klein, AV Club)
    -REVIEW: of The Verificationist (Andrew Roe, Salon)
    -REVIEW: of The Verificationist (Kirkus)
    -REVIEW: of The Verificationist (Dan Cryer, Newsday)
    -REVIEW: of The Verificationist (Charlie Onion, Wag)
    -REVIEW: of The Verificationist (John Grant, Infinity Plus)
    -REVIEW: of The Verificationist (Vanessa V. Friedman, Entertainment weekly)
    -REVIEW: of The Verificationist (Rick Levin, The Stranger)
    -REVIEW: of The Verificationist (E.M. Keeler's Reading Journal)
    -REVIEW: of The Hundred Brothers by Donald Antrim (Publishers Weekly)
    -REVIEW: of Hundred Brothers (Alice Whittenburg, The Cafe Irreal)
    -REVIEW: of Hundred Brothers (Kirkus)
    -REVIEW: of Hundred Brothers (Jonathan Franzen, The Guardian)
    -REVIEW: of The Emerald Light in the Air by Donald Antrim (Publishers Weekly)
    -REVIEW: of Emerald Light (Kirkus)
    -REVIEW: of Emerald Light (Christian Lorentzen, London Review of Books)
    -REVIEW: of Emerald Light (Chris power, The Guardian)
    -REVIEW: of Emerald Light (David Ulin, LA Times)
    -REVIEW: of Elect Mr. Robinson for a Better World: 2a Novel by Donald Antrim (Publishers Weekly)
    -REVIEW: of Mr. Robinson (Kirkus)
    -REVIEW: of One Friday in April: A Story of Suicide and Survival by Donald Antrim (Publishers Weekly)
    -REVIEW: of One Friday (Kirkus)
    -REVIEW: of One Friday (Daphne Merkin, BookForum)
    -REVIEW: of One Friday (David Ulin, LA Times)
    -REVIEW: of One Friday (Michael Mewshaw, Washington Post)
    -REVIEW: of One Friday (Anna Altman, New Republic)
    -REVIEW: of One Friday (Ignatiy Vishnevetsky, AV Club)
    -REVIEW: of One Friday (Marco Roth, Tablet)
    -REVIEW: of One Friday (Jonathan Buckley, TLS)
-REVIEW: of The Afterlife: A Memoir by Donald Antrim (Publishers Weekly)
    -REVIEW: of The Afterlife (A.O. Scott, NY Times)
    -REVIEW: of The Afterlife (Kirkus)
    -REVIEW: of Afterlife (Andrew Martin, bk)
    -REVIEW: of Afterlife (Rebecca Adams, The Guardian)
    -REVIEW: of Afterlife (Robert Collins, The Guardian)
    -REVIEW: of Afterlife (Greatest Books)
    -REVIEW: of Afterlife (Christian Lorentzen, Sewanee Review)

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