"I have lived this story in real life, though mine wasn't nearly as funny, poignant or compelling as this. On the other hand, I believe I'm much better looking than the fellow in this book and could probably take him in a fight."
Phil Camp has a problem. Not the fact that he wrote a parody of a self-help book (Where Can I Stow My Baggage?) that the world took seriously and became aninternational bestseller. And not the fact that he wrote the book under a phony name, Marty Fleck, and the phony guy became a self-help guru overnight. Phil cannot be Marty Fleck. He can barely be himself.
No, Phil’s problem is he has been walking with a limp for nine months. Phil is in constant pain, yet there is nothing physically wrong with his body that would cause such agony. That problem leads him to the controversial Dr. Samuel Abrun, a real doctor who wrote a real self-help book (The Power of “Ow!”) that made thousands of people pain-free.
So, what happens when the self-help fraud, meets the genuine item? Does he get better? Can he hobble out of his own way to help himself? Most important, can the reader make it through 50 pages without thinking, “Wait a minute. Is that a twinge I feel in my lower back, or just gas?”
Phil embraces Abrun’s unorthodox psychogenic theories passionately, but manages to save some passion for Abrun's daughter, Janet, a doctor herself who has her own theories, and remedies, for chronic pain. If all this weren't enough, Phil tries to delve further into his past with his unconventional psychotherapist, The Irish Shrink, even if it means revealing dark secrets he never remembered telling him the first two or three times. And if all that weren’t enough, Phil confronts his alter ego’s nemesis, right-wing radio blowhard Jim McManus, only to find out they share a common enemy – the same family.
Like Carl Hiassen and Larry David, author Bill Scheft understands that the best humor is always excruciating. That fits the story of Everything Hurts, and its lesson: that pain is the ultimate teacher. By the end, Phil Camp, the self-proclaimed “self-help fraud” turns out to be the real thing. And the real thing turns out to be flawed, confused, but hopeful. In other words, human.