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The Crack Magazine



Sam Lipsyte, Simon & Schuster

I loved American author Sam Lipsyte’s last novel ‘The Ask’, which detailed the travails of a third-tier university fund-raiser, and while ‘Hark’ doesn’t quite match its sustained barrage of hilarity, there is still plenty to recommend it. Hark is Hark Morner, a failed stand-up comic who finds himself the unwitting guru behind a mindfulness-like cult he calls ‘Mental Archery’. Among his followers is Fraz, a man adept at pulling off the various poses related to the fledgling movement, as well as spouting its aphorisms (“focus on focus”). He’s less good at gaining the respect of his wife and children. Other followers include a rogue Ivy League ethicist, a social media whizz and a Swedish kidnapper. Lipsyte mercilessly harpoons capitalistic mores in our increasingly atomised world in which people will reach for any old off-the-peg bullshit instead of trying to affect real change. He also combines stylistic prose – surely no one else calibrates their words with such care – with real zingers that fly off the page.