"Noam Shpancer portrays the oft-hidden world of psychotherapy with unparalleled authenticity, compassion, and wit . . . An astonishing debut."—Jonathan Kellerman
Noam Shpancer's stunning debut novel opens as a psychologist reluctantly takes on a new client—an exotic dancer whose severe anxiety is keeping her from the stage. The psychologist, a solitary professional who also teaches a lively night class, helps the client confront her fears. But as treatment unfolds, her struggles and secrets begin to radiate onto his life, upsetting the precarious balance in his unresolved relationship with Nina, a married former colleague with whom he has a child—a child he has never met. As the shell of his detachment begins to crack, he suddenly finds himself too deeply involved, the boundary lines between professional and personal, between help and harm, blurring dangerously.
With its wonderfully distinctive narrative voice, rich with humor and humanity, The Good Psychologist leads the reader on a journey into the heart of the therapy process and beyond, examining some of the fundamental questions of the soul: to move or be still; to defy or obey; to let go or hold on.
The unnamed psychologist at the center of Shpancer's intelligent and suspenseful debut is at a crossroads at the college where he teaches a night class, his brightest student is also the most troubled; his newest patient is an exotic dancer who may or may not be suffering panic attacks on stage; and his former lover, for whom he still pines, is about to move away with their love child. The chapters are divided among classroom lectures, psychotherapy sessions, and personal reflections, and though all these are often narrative killers, Shpancer, a psychologist and professor, makes them work, thanks largely to cutting dialogue and sharply defined characters. The psychobabble doesn't suck the air out of the book, but creates a lens through which to view the other events in the novel. The overall sense of intense interiority is at odds with the too clinical distance the narrator maintains from the reader, but the insights into matters of interrogation and perception are sublime, as is the fluid interplay between the narrator's personal and professional lives.
Customer ReviewsSee All
Fascinating and distinctive
This was a fun and easy read, but with themes and ideas that were provocative. I will be thinking about it for a long time. In an odd sort of way, and almost by accident perhaps, I would almost characterize this as magical realism - the language is almost surreal in it's clarity and clipped tones.
I don't know who initially red this book one star, but there were obviously 4 years old and unable to read. This was an outstanding book. The dialogue is accessible and intriguing. The back and forth between the two psychologist is secretive and sensual. Great book.