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Full number line 10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1. . 0.9 x 9 x 5.9 Inches. 286 pages. A one-time literary novelist of some respectability, now brought low by the double insult of obscurity and crippling debt, Robert G. Mehlman is a man in need of money and recognition, fast. But Mehlman's publisher is only interested in his long overdue novel, since the people don't want short stories, and his portfolio was liquidated months ago. So, it is to culinary writing that he turns. A practiced decadent, a habitual spendthrift, and a serial womanizer, he has, ostensibly, all the right qualities. But the path to fame is never a smooth one. Phantom Pain is the bitterly funny but unpublished manuscript of Mehlman's autobiography. In it, he tells the parallel stories of his decaying marriage and his puzzling affair with a woman he meets by chance and who accompanies him on the road. Their journey takes them on a chaffeur-driven, midnight run away from New York City to Atlantic City where they gamble away most of Mehlman's remaining funds and then North, to Albany, where he finds unlikely salvation and the inspiration for his book, Polish-Jewish Cuisine in 69 Recipes. Framed by Mehlman's son's account of his famous father, this novel-within-a-novel is a darkly hilarious tale of a writer's fall and his subsequent rise. Phantom Pain has all the charcteristic mixture of slapstick and stark despair that has made Arnon Grunberg one of the most interesting, certainly the funniest, and arguably the best Dutch writer working today.