The Portable Veblen by Elizabeth McKenzie

The Portable Veblen

Elizabeth McKenzie

Dreamy, nature-loving, anti-consumerist meets ambitious, status-conscious materialist working for Big Pharma - and it’s not long before serious prenuptial doubts emerge. Throw in dysfunctional upbringing on both sides and a disastrous meet-the-in-laws visit with the future hypochondriac mother-in-law from hell – and the relationship looks doomed. If you are into screwball comedy and like squirrels, you will enjoy this.

Extract

'Now, I've learned in time that a middle-aged woman with unusual symptoms can easily be labelled a crackpot, a psychosomatic case, a malingerer. Further, my general physician recently told me I'm "too observant". How can I agree with that? If not me, who, then?'
Veblen was breathing rapidly.
Paul looked at Veblen and said, 'Yes, patients need to be proactive.'
'I can't tell you how pleased I am to hear a doctor say that!'
'Now, the cause could be nonorganic -' Paul began.
Veblen winced.
'Nonorganic? Psychosomatic, is that what you're saying?'
'No, not in that sense -'
'What do you mean? If a migraine falls outside their speciality, many physicians don't realise that it is no longer considered psychosomatic.'
Veblen said woodenly, 'Mom, let's eat.'
'I can't speak for "many physicians,"' Paul said, 'but I'm a neurologist and - ' He stopped abruptly to sip his champagne, temples pulsating. His jaw was seizing like a tractor, and Veblen's stomach ached. 'You sound like you know more about it than I do,' he said mildly.
Perfect answer!

Parallels
  • The Accidental Tourist by Anne Tyler
  • Etta and Otto and Russell and James by Emma Hooper