Ever wonder what your doctor is really thinking about you when he is giving you a physical? Is he repulsed by what he sees? What about your best friend visiting you and he holds that glance a little too long on your young daughter and you wonder if he is actually checking her out. These questions and others even creepier are examined in Herman Koch’s intriguing new novel Summer House with Swimming Pool.
Like his previous bestseller The Dinner this one is also a page turner and will surely have book clubs buzzing whether the main character Dr. Marc Schlosser is right or wrong in what he did to his so-called friend and patient, Ralph Meier (an obese actor.) Nobody in this book comes out looking good and that is why author Koch keeps you squirming as you turn the pages because we all know deep down we could all behave like the good Dr. Schlosser. The novel’s pivoting moment is when Dr. Schlosser’s daughter is found passed out after she goes missing. We are then shown a cast of suspects and Dr. Schlosser takes the law literally into his own hands when he figures out who he thinks did it.
If that weren’t enough to make you never want to go to doctor again there is a scene about a past professor of Dr. Schlosser that may have gay readers ready for a good old-fashioned book burning but I think that is what the author intended. He gives nobody and I mean nobody a free pass.
You are probably asking yourself by now why would I want to read a book like this. The answer is because this is what great reading is all about. It’s a weird kind of pleasure to pick up a book like this and be tested. When I got to a particularly uncomfortable scene in the book I would put it down for a moment, brace myself and then continue reading wondering where Koch was going to take me.
By the end when the we finally get to know the real truth about what really happened to Dr. Schlosser’s daughter you are reminded of the opening moments in the book when the doctor is examining a patient and is repulsed by his patient’s body. You say to yourself, “ I hope my doctor doesn’t think about me in that way” but deep down you know he probably does and you also wonder what else he is thinking about you. Would my doctor do something like Dr. Schlosser did to his good friend if I annoyed him?
In the meantime I guess we have no choice but to just listen to him and when he says, “Open wide and say Ahhh.” I can hardly wait for Mr. Koch’s next novel to see where he is going to take us next. Is there a doctor in the house!