Phantom Pain

Front Cover
Other Press, 2004 - Fiction - 286 pages
6 Reviews
Listen to Arnon Grunberg discuss Phantom Pain on "The Connection" with Dick Gordon.

A one-time literary novelist of some respectability, now brought low by the double insult of obscurity and crippling debt, Robert G. Mehlman is a man in need of money and recognition, fast. But Mehlmanís publisher is only interested in his long overdue novel, since the people donít want short stories, and his portfolio was liquidated months ago. So, it is to culinary writing that he turns. A practiced decadent, a habitual spendthrift, and a serial womanizer, he has, ostensibly, all the right qualities. But the path to fame is never a smooth one.

Phantom Pain is the bitterly funny but unpublished manuscript of Mehlmanís autobiography. In it, he tells the parallel stories of his decaying marriage and his puzzling affair with a woman he meets by chance and who accompanies him on the road. Their journey takes them on a chauffeur-driven, midnight run away from New York City to Atlantic City where they gamble away most of Mehlmanís remaining funds and then North, to Albany, where he finds unlikely salvation and the inspiration for his book, Polish-Jewish Cuisine in 69 Recipes.

Framed by Mehlmanís sonís account of his famous father, this novel-within-a-novel is a darkly hilarious tale of a writerís fall and his subsequent rise. Phantom Pain has all the characteristic mixture of slapstick and stark despair that has made Arnon Grunberg one of the most interesting, certainly the funniest, and arguably the best Dutch writer working today.

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Review: Phantom Pain

User Review  - Jim Elkins - Goodreads

The editor of "Poetry" once told me he reads 60,000 poems a year. In my job, I see about that many images (paintings, visual artworks). By comparison I only read 50 or so novels every year. There isn ... Read full review

Review: Phantom Pain

User Review  - Michael Flick - Goodreads

Slapstick meets literary fiction. A novel-wiithin-a-novel, a son's memories of his father and his father's memories of the ups and downs of being a "famous" writer. All Grunberg is worth reading. He ... Read full review


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Princess Fairytale
The Bus Driver and His Wife

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About the author (2004)

Arnon Grunberg is also the author of Blue Mondays, an international bestseller that won the Anton Wachter Prize for a debut novel. Phantom Pain won the AKO Prize, which is the Dutch equivalent of the Booker. Grunberg currently lives in New York City.

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