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Thomas (Pictures at an Exhibition, 1993, etc.) slips further down the greasy pole toward literary ignominy in this trashy account of Sigmund Freud's final days. It's 1939, and Freud is in Hampstead dying of cancer -- a situation full of scatological promise for a predictable author like Thomas. During bouts of pain and delirium, Freud recounts episodes real and imaginary from his life, from seeing his mother's pubic hair to watching his nurse miscarry his father's child. The present is also a confusion of dreams and reality for Freud, who often psychoanalyzes what actually happens and takes his lurid fantasies as truth. His daughter, Anna, who nurses him during this time, is the object of Freud's prurience and, in fact, invites it. The second part of the book focuses on Freud's diaries from WW I, a period during which he suffered a nervous breakdown because of an affair he imagined his wife, Martha, was having with a neighbor. That period is also the subject of a story by Anna in which she figures as her father's wife. The final chapters are a series of dreams Freud has just before he dies. These dreams are all scenes of actual events that will take place subsequent to his death: the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Anna shopping for groceries in a modern supermarket, the Vietnam War. Freud is, of course, unaware of his prescience and analyzes the ""deathdreams"" as he would any others (concluding that the mushroom-shaped cloud represents the times he and Anna hunted mushrooms in the woods, and so forth). Thomas rehashes his old material with as little success as he has had in all his latest literary efforts. The only good reading here is when Thomas favors us with borscht-belt jokes; though somewhat gratuitous, they are nonetheless appreciated. Sometimes pretension is just pornography. Drivel.

Pub Date: Oct. 15th, 1994
ISBN: 0786702702
Page count: 231pp
Publisher: Carroll & Graf