At forty, the writer Nathan Zuckerman comes down with a mysterious affliction - pure pain, beginning in his neck and shoulders, invading his torso, and taking possession of his spirit. Zuckerman, whose work was his life, is unable to write a line. Now his work is trekking from one doctor to another, but none can find a cause for the pain and nobody can assuage it. Zuckerman himself wonders if the pain can have been caused by his own books. And while he is wondering, his dependence on painkillers extends to an addiction to vodka and marijuana.
The third volume of the trilogy and epilogue Zuckerman Bound, The Anatomy Lesson is a great comedy of illness and provides some of the funniest scenes in all of Roth's fiction as well as some of the fiercest.