A cute romantic comedy featuring two male buddies who are obsessive-compulsive germophobes and the female Ph.D. student who helps ease at least one of them into a more conventionally normal life.
Imagine one of those road movies starring a younger Bing Crosby and Bob Hope, and then cross it with Rain Man, and you’ll have some idea of the tone of this debut novel by Westbury. His biography identifies him as “a cognitive neuropsychologist...[whose] work focuses on understanding the functional structure of language processing and the neurological underpinnings of psychotherapy.” Fear not: The doctor doesn't let the science get in the way of an engaging story, though it will inspire many readers to rethink their conceptions of mental disorders. Narrator Isaac is a former psych major who's dealing with the death of his mother and the money he's inherited. In group therapy, he develops a special affinity with Greg, who has a master’s degree in art history. Beyond the obligatory hand-washing that bonds them, Isaac’s routine includes visiting museums, and he becomes fixated on Marcel Duchamp, to whom Greg (whose major quirk is a thing for spoons) has introduced him. Though Isaac is inordinately careful not to touch anything or anyone on these museum visits, he becomes involved with the irresistibly attractive Kelly, a Japanese-Canadian Ph.D. student who's writing her thesis on the Bible story of Abraham and Isaac (which serves as a recurring thematic motif). The Duchamp piece from which the novel takes its title incorporates a chocolate grinder, which Isaac obsesses over possessing for himself. The three friends rent a Winnebago, which Kelly alone can drive, and make their way from Boston to Philadelphia to fulfill Isaac’s quest, talking a lot and opening the two men to experiences beyond their comfort levels.
It’s a sweet story, and it builds inevitably to a happy ending.