A brilliant send-up of our contemporary culture from Sam Lipsyte, the critically acclaimed author of Home Land, centered around an unwitting mindfulness guru and the phenomenon he initiates.
In an America convulsed by political upheaval, cultural discord, environmental collapse, and spiritual confusion, many folks are searching for peace, salvation, and—perhaps most immediately—just a little damn focus. Enter Hark Morner, an unwitting guru whose technique of “Mental Archery”—a combination of mindfulness, mythology, fake history, yoga, and, well, archery—is set to captivate the masses and raise him to near-messiah status. It’s a role he never asked for, and one he is woefully underprepared to take on. But his inner-circle of modern pilgrims have other plans, as do some suddenly powerful fringe players, including a renegade Ivy League ethicist, a gentle Swedish kidnapper, a crossbow-hunting veteran of jungle drug wars, a social media tycoon with an empire on the skids, and a mysteriously influential (but undeniably slimy) catfish.
In this social satire of the highest order, Sam Lipsyte, the New York Times bestseller and master of the form, reaches new peaks of daring in a novel that revels in contemporary absurdity and the wild poetry of everyday language while exploring the emotional truths of his characters. Hark is a smart, incisive look at men, women, and children seeking meaning and dignity in a chaotic, ridiculous, and often dangerous world.
APPLE BOOKS REVIEW
With laser-sharp observations and a frenetic wit, novelist Sam Lipsyte skewers the self-improvement industry. The highly topical Hark follows a crew of damaged seekers. Oppressed by technology and desperate for focus and calm, they pin their hopes on the book’s titular guru: a failed comedian who has stumbled upon a successful shtick. There are no heroes in Lipsyte’s satirical misadventure; instead, he presents a gloriously jumbled assortment of misfits, heiresses, and depressives, thrown together as they look for life’s answers in all the wrong places. We tore through this dark and funny novel in a happy flash.
Lipsyte (The Fun Parts) pillories the mindfulness movement in this acerbic and surprisingly moving novel of a hesitant guru and his self-involved inner circle. Failed comic Hark Morner writes a book and launches an unexpected craze for "mental archery," a practice combining disconnected ramblings of invented history, opaque aphorisms, and yogalike poses. Among his devoted inner circle are Kate, an aimless and wealthy 20-something who finances the movement; Teal, a convicted embezzler and unlicensed marriage therapist; and Fraz, a middle-aged man disappointed by his career stagnation and tense marriage. Hark rejects their schemes to monetize his teachings and offers only oblique answers to questions, saying that the only point is to focus. Facing pressures from tech magnate Dieter Delgado, who wants to co-opt mental archery, Hark retreats to the Upstate New York home of true believer Meg. When Fraz accidentally injures his young daughter, he pleads for Hark to call for a worldwide focus to help her survive a coma, leading to a wild conclusion an unexpected denouement. This is a searing exploration of desperate hopes, and Lipsyte's potent blend of spot-on satire, menacing bit players, and deadpan humor will delight readers.
Customer ReviewsSee All
Full disclosure: I haven't finished the book. About halfway through and I just can't convince myself to go on. Dreary. The characters are off-putting in the extreme. This book is getting me depressed and I don't mean figuratively. I am saddened when I read this. When clever restaurant names and food descriptions are the high point of a novel, it's time to do some laundry. Or file my taxes. Anything to get my mind off Hark and his disciples.