BOOKS: LONG ROAD TO A MIRACLE

A COMIC MASTER FINDS AN OLD CURE FOR A MODERN MALAISE

British comic novelist David Lodge has an endearing way of falling in love with his characters. In Nice Work (1991) he did a complete about-face, starting at a satirist's typical distance from his creations and finishing besotted with them. In Therapy (Viking; 321 pages; $22.95) he describes a classic case of postmodern depression. Laurence ("Tubby") Passmore is 58, securely married, the chief writer on a hit TV sitcom. But he quickly finds he has a trick knee, a fed-up wife and a bad threat to his job.

So far, so standard. What comes next is pretty familiar too. Tubby tries seducing...

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