Death by Analysis by Bruce Fink **

Reading dates: 1 — 10 November 2013

Bruce Fink is my absolutely favourite Lacanian writer. His texts have not only helped me understand Lacan, but find enjoyment in Lacan’s language, which is not at all easy. He is also the translator of Lacan’s Ecrits and Seminar XX. He has gone through the pain to allow us to read these wonderful texts. In 2010, as I was submitting my PhD, he published the first adventures of Inspector Canal. I am an avid detective story reader, as anyone perusing these reviews will no doubt notice, so my favourite analyst publishing a collection of three Lacanian detective stories had the momentousness of a clear eclipse. There was a cosmic alignment about it and despite some reservations, I gave it 4 stars. This was mainly due to the first story, The Case of the Lost Object, which explained desire so well. When Death by Analysis: Another Adventure From Inspector Canal’s New York Agency was published, I left everything I was reading to enjoy it.

Despite what it is trying to achieve, which I acknowledge is complex and difficult, the novella is not very good. The case is trite, unsophisticated and circles around an issue that is not perhaps of interest to most readers: the internal wars in psychoanalytic institutes. The book offers some insights on the workings of neurotics and psychotics and I think this is where its strength lies. Sadly, though, is is glossed over, gone through it too quickly, unexplained and unexplored. A shame. Canal is annoying; his Scarlet Pimpernel ability to dress up quite unbelievable. The rest of the characters have impossible, silly names which are just there for the purposes of a little not-so-free association. I loved the French introjections and word plays, but, then, I speak French and I felt the joke was lovingly personal. I also learned many new words (vulpine, mondegreen) but I do that with most books anyway. It read like a draft, a draft of something that might have become a very interesting novel, but we only got a draft of it. It does not have the wonderful circularity and analytic insight of the Lost Object, and that is precisely what it is missing. I will very possibly read any further adventures of Canal, but that is more my own need for completion and my commitment to the genre, not to the slightly jejune Quesjac Canal, even if …

psychoanalysis is the fine art of responding to questions without answering them. p. 143