The Conversation

D.J. Enright

  • On Kissing, Tickling and Being Bored by Adam Phillips
    Faber, 165 pp, £14.99, March 1993, ISBN 0 571 16925 2

This collection of essays by the psychotherapist Adam Phillips is a peculiarly difficult book to review because it reviews itself as it goes along and is hardly to be described in other than its own words. Much of it consists of a flow of sparkling apophthegms: the effect on the reader is not unlike being hit repeatedly on the head by a small, pointed hammer. But the blurb’s reference to Phillips’s ‘aphoristic, hit-and-run style’ does him an injustice. He never runs far away. Preserving the analogy, one might compare him to a spirited motorist yet not inattentive to pedestrian readers; or he might be likened to a frolicsome ambulance driver who knocks people down and follows up with first-aid on the spot.

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