FICTION

Hark

S. & S. Jan. 2019. 304p. ISBN 9781501146060. $27; ebk. ISBN 9781501146084. F
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Hark Morner has developed something called mental archery, replete with bow-and-arrow allusions and 52 exercises/poses aimed at getting people to "focus"—although upon what Hark can't or won't say—and he becomes an unwitting guru when a small band of followers promote his program into a global phenomenon. In the near-future that serves as setting, the world is in apparent chaos (at least there's a massive ground war in Europe, with sides not clearly determined), and people grasp at any bit of hope, although the program certainly has its detractors. Hark, iconic and laconic, is content to coast along, only at the end recognizing that he has missed a broader mission. And the end? Hark is martyred (with an arrow, no less) just after he "raises" the daughter of his principle disciple, but the disciples suspect he is not "gone," and indeed he reappears at times, although not corporeally. Hints of a Christ story that floats around throughout the novel are more pronounced in the closing pages.
VERDICT This work is clever but not as hilarious as advertised. The writing is fluid and stylish, and though a slow start might lose many readers, the pace does accelerate. Has Lipsyte (The Fun Parts) written a tonic for our times? Maybe. [See Prepub Alert, 7/16/18.]

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