I was surprised with how "mixed" the feelings are with this book. I read it start to finish without any impressions or knowledge and I found myself really intrigued and compelled by the narrative.
One thing you mention in the podcast – and I agreed with – is the insane suspension of disbelief required to accept the narrator's detail in the recounting of events. Early on in the book, as the narrator is becoming enamored with his patient, he comments on her beautiful manner of speaking and how her description of a setting was "poetic," as if to inform the reader that yes, this really is how the book will play out. At this point it registered in me that I'd just have to accept, for one reason or another, that the re-telling of events would be embellished and detailed, even on mundane or unremarkable events (as Chris pointed out above). Similarly to when I saw Looper, and the characters on a few occasions basically admit that time travel, being implausible and extremely complex, would be too messy and incoherent to explain. This, to me, was the director asking the audience not to dwell on loopholes since the concept is predicated on fantasy and debating the consistencies wouldn't serve the plot or message. In both cases, I thought "sure, this is how the writer wants on tell the story, I get it," and from then on it never bothered me. Still, looking at it analytically, it was one of the book's weaker points.
What I absolutely loved, however, was the way the book touched on our ability to discern so much detail and create instant in-depth impressions about people when robbed of sight, our most celebrated of the five senses. He uses smell (the phosphorous smell of Viceroys), the sound of nylon stockings ("this is 1974, and young girls don't wear nylon anymore"), the uneasy shifting of bodies in leather seats, and of course the profoundly communicative quality of their voices to automatically conjure up these detailed, fantastic images of his invisible characters. In fact, he mentions on several occasions how he must swat away temptation to see his patient, because he knows that his interpretation, through what he's heard, seen and smelled, will be in all likelihood shattered and leaving him disappointed if he were to finally see his patient.
I guess the length of the novel never really grated on me, and the ending, I thought was really great. If one were to believe he or she was "self-created," but their lives had in fact all along been tinkered with by some outside influence, what kind of reaction would they give? The idea of fear of violent reaction comes to mind, in particular, when the narrator realizes his small therapist is actually an imposing, tall figure, adds to it.
All in all, I thought the intriguing elements of the book, and it's relevance to human interaction through code (like a programming language), really outweighed the book's frustrating elements, such as the length and required suspension of disbelief.
Anyway, first post here. Glad to be a part of the community.