The Anatomy Lesson is a ferocious, heartfelt book – lavish with laughs and flamboyant inventions John Updike With his fortieth birthday receding into the distance, along with his hairline and his most successful novel, the writer Nathan Zuckerman comes down with a mysterious affliction – pure pain, beginning in his neck and shoulders, invading his torso, and taking possession of his spirit. Zuckerman, whose work was his life, finds himself physically unable to write a line. He treks from one doctor to another, but none can find a cause for the pain and nobody can assuage it. Could it be, he wonders to himself, that the cause of the pain is nothing less than the books he has written? As he grapples with this possibility, he tries an onslaught of painkillers, then vodka, and finally marijuana. He contemplates threatening the pain with suicide, attempting to scare it out of his system. He toys with the prospect of a dramatic career change. What will it take for the pain to finally leave him alone?