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In the Pool Novel

Meet Dr. Ichiro Irabu. In today's Japan, a traditional land beset by modern pressures and confusion, image-conscious people just can't be seen going to a therapist. Instead they visit "doctors of neurology" like Dr. Irabu. What makes the good doctor unique is his penchant for sharing his patients' stress-related ailments, aiding and abetting their compulsions... and making them much worse before they get better.

In this sardonic collection by the award-winning Hideo Okuda, we meet the many faces of dysfunction in modern Japan. In "In the Pool," a magazine editor's midlife crisis sends him deep into an addiction to swimming that threatens his job and his marriage. "Making a Stand" focuses on a man who, recently left by his wife, suffers a constant, painful, and embarrassing erection.

In "Trade Show Model" a pretty young woman believes every man she sees on the street is a stalker. In "Cell," a high-school student addicted to his cell phone cannot stop text-messaging the "friends" he so desperately wants. "Double Check" tells of a journalist afraid to leave home, for fear his house will burn down while he's gone.

How does Dr. Irabu do it? "No, no, no. I don't do any of that fancy-pants sort of thing. Some counselor listening to a patient's worries, then giving him wise words of encouragement. Perfectly useless." His approach seems to work.

Written by Hideo Okuda.


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