Zuckerman, whose work was his life, finds himself physically unable to write a line. He treks from one doctor to another, but none can find a cause for the pain and nobody can assuage it. Could it be, he wonders to himself, that the cause of the pain is nothing less than the books he has written? As he grapples with this possibility, he tries an onslaught of painkillers, then vodka, and finally marijuana. He contemplates threatening the pain with suicide, attempting to scare it out of his system. He toys with the prospect of a dramatic career change. What will it take for the pain to finally leave him alone?