Will Eaves’s novel The Absent Therapist is comprised of a collection of anecdotes and short stories that have the idea of the therapist in common. Some are harrowing, some are happy and some are humorous. The reader is put in the position of ‘therapist’ and listens to all these stories continuously. This is an interesting point the novel makes about how telling a story is a ‘therapeutic’ thing to do, and it gives the reader a sort of healing, God-like power. Somehow, as a reader, you feel a sense of authority over these characters and stories because it’s as if they are all telling YOU about their personal lives. Even if it does consist only of their queries about the invention of boxer shorts.
In total, the novel is made up of over a hundred of them, meaning it is difficult to remember and any specifically. They all sort of merge together, which perhaps is the idea. Will Eaves is also a renown poet so it makes sense that these stories weave together like a collection of short stories or collection of poetry.
The Absent Therapist is so unlike a traditional novel that I’m not quite sure what to make of it. You begin it expecting the same characters to appear again but they rarely do, and when they do, it means little. The tales are so brief, some consisting of only a single line, that they have little meaning standing alone. Although, the novel says something interesting about the insignificance of life and of people’s individual tales, but other than that, there is little to go on with so little in the way of plot and characterisation.
Overall, I enjoyed The Absent Therapist as it was different but now I feel the idea has been done and it would not be worth reading a similar novel. So kudos to Will Eaves for stepping outside of the box but it’s been done now, lets get back to more traditional novels.
Just as a side note, I thought I’d add that Eaves’s novel has a particularly uninspiring cover and if I hadn’t have been recommended to read it there isn’t a hope in hell I would have picked it out of an overpopulated Waterstones shelf. A cover really can be a make or break of a book and this is a let down.