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3.16  ·  Rating details ·  533 ratings  ·  148 reviews
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—j
Hardcover, 287 pages
Published January 15th 2019 by Simon Schuster
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Average rating 3.16  · 
Rating details
 ·  533 ratings  ·  148 reviews

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Anita Pomerantz
Jan 08, 2019 rated it liked it
Snarky, irreverent, and absurdist best describes this tale of an unwitting guru, Hark, who becomes known and admired for his meaningless message instructing people to "focus". However, the book really isn't about Hark, but rather about the acolytes that latch onto him and his mental archery methodology. The book's tension mostly comes from the various attempts to monetize and use Hark for profit. But oddly,I found the book to be neither plot driven nor truly character driven, but more of a comed ...more
Nathan "N.R." Gaddis
Jan 27, 2019 marked it as i-want-money
Tom LeClair reviews ::

Let's listen.

"With Stanley Elkin and Philip Roth gone, Sam Lipsyte is American fiction’s foremost pitch man and bitch man, a master of Elkin’s crazed persuasions and Roth’s enraged complaints. "

"Although ostensibly set in a future several presidents after Obama, Hark is the best novel I know about Trump time."

"To Elkin and
Sep 26, 2018 rated it it was ok
Snarky, pretentious, satire of modern life. Using a life-affirming cultish guru who got his start giving corporate feel good lectures, the story circles around his bizarre but devoted followers of his mental archery program. Hark is an interesting character, but Michael Valentine he is not. Hope this works better for you than it did for me.
Hank Stuever
Jun 19, 2019 rated it really liked it
Having gone nutzo for Sam Lipsyte's previous novels and short story collection, I was eager to read this. And there it sat on my "currently reading" shelf for, gosh, five months. I took an unplanned break from reading books -- I'm not sure why. Lots of stress, for one thing, and feeling overwhelmed. Finally we went on summer vacation and I got to binge books for two delirious weeks. "Hark" was the perfect re-entry into reading. Lipsyte writes mind-alteringly great sentences and dialogue. The sto ...more
Sherwood Smith
The keelson here is strongly reminiscent of Being There, which came out when I was young. Alas, this revisit to the same idea nearly fifty years later pretty much covers the same ground, as hapless guru Hark Morner drifts into the morass of modern society, wanting everyone to "focus" by using "mental archery;" the act of moving and visualizing allegedly helps one achieve that focus.

Of course everyone around Hark wants to monetize the message, and so we get a series of sometimes funny but m
Nov 07, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: funny-stuff
Lipsyte's upcoming (out in January 2019) is a hyper-charged tale of an odd guy who becomes a guru for his "mental archery" tricks of heightened focus. Lipsyte's descriptions and dialogue are as darkly funny and relentless as ever but the story felt too messy at times. Maybe with a couple less characters and stray subplots, I would have ranked this as high as his others (and his three other novels are ALL among my all-time faves). Much of the middle section (depicting the inner workings of his cu ...more
Mar 03, 2019 rated it it was amazing
So sharp and hilarious. A marvel on the sentence level as well. This book nourished me.
Oct 08, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a story of a guru. Or, really, the man who unwittingly becomes one due to having just the right thing to say (focus) at the right time (America in the throes of political and spiritual chaos). The guru links the way to enlightenment to archery and makes it all about perfecting the aim. And this mental archery concept becomes insanely popular with a bunch of variedly confused individuals, a few of whom specifically go to great length to popularize the message and the messenger and it is t ...more
Allen Adams
Jan 16, 2019 rated it it was amazing
There’s very little overlap in the writing Venn diagram of “funny” and “literary” – even most ostensibly humorous literary fiction definitely deserves the scare quotes around “funny,” while genuinely funny stuff doesn’t often have the requisite stylistic heft to warrant the literary tag – but Sam Lipsyte lives right square in the middle of it all.

Lipsyte’s new novel “Hark” is another example of the author’s incredible gift for balancing poetry and potty humor, for blending the profou
Nov 28, 2018 rated it did not like it
Hark (2019)*
By Sam Lipsyte
Simon & Schuster, 304 pages

There is a thin line between that which is snarky and hip, and prose that loses its impact. Sam Lipsyte's Hark weaves across both sides of that border on a regular basis.

The first chapter, which serves as something of a prologue, is so chaotic that I almost bailed on the novel before I even got started. I received an uncorrected advance copy, so perhaps editors have rescued the book's gateway, but the rest o
Ericka Clouther
The writing is good, and the subject of the book seemed like the exact sort of thing I’d love: an anti-modern-culture focus (mindfulness) guru turned unwilling cult leader. But the style was impossible for me to get past. I’m not a fan of absurdist ironic fiction such as that of Douglas Adams, but at least Adams’s writing has a light quality. This was absurdist and another reviewer used the word “caustic” and I can’t find a better word. The characters are real but the style makes them seem carto ...more
Keith Rosson
Apr 26, 2019 rated it really liked it
As ever, Lipsyte's new one, HARK, is funny, irreverent, so brilliantly dexterous, full of jaw-droppingly nimble dialogue, and - particularly the ending this time around - brutally f*cking depressing.
Feb 13, 2019 rated it did not like it
Didn't like; didn't finish.
Anthony Crupi
Jan 22, 2019 rated it liked it
Many of my favorite novels are of the shaggy dog variety; for reasons perhaps having to do with faulty wiring or plain cussedness, I tend to be drawn to books that hang together on the most feeble of premises, 300-page excuses for dopey jokes and arch wordplay, meta-narratives where someone is forever making the useful distinction between the concept of the death bed and, as is the case here, the "death futon." And while I rarely remember the endings to novels or films or even three-panel comic ...more
Apr 23, 2019 rated it did not like it
Love almost all of his other stuff. Not this, a repetitive, unfunny grind. Don’t bother.
Jan 16, 2019 rated it liked it
I really wanted to like this book. Loved the title and the crazy premise of mental archery, of focusing … on nothing. And I was blown away by the wordsmithing. The voice is so unique, with Lipsyte often making up words -- or combining words that shouldn’t go together -- and making those weird phraselets work in the same way that clumsy German noun-clusters can sometimes convey deeper meaning. No, Lipsyte’s innovative vocabulary doesn’t always strike gold. Or at least I didn’t always understand t ...more
History hides...behind other history. p4
If this was not an answer perhaps it was the path to one. p9

Focus does not mean to simply gawk at something . It is to transform it. p11

Hark, the novel, is the backstory of a phenomenon, a satirical account of the meteoric rise of an unlikely fictional reluctant guru with an adaptable message. Mental Archery requires most of all the ability to focus. \You are the arrow and the bow. Start with that. p87

The first arr
Jan 26, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: netgalley, 2019-reads
2.5 stars, rounded up.

Thank you to Simon and Schuster via Netgalley for my digital copy of this book!

Uh, WHAT did I just read? Hark is a social satire about a man promoting his methods of mental archery - a combination of mindfulness, yoga, fake history, and mental archery. Even after reading the book I don't have the faintest clue what mental archery is. But this could have been the point the author was trying to make. I do think Hark is a good reminder of our times and
Doug Moe
Feb 27, 2019 rated it it was ok
The writing can be so good and funny, but it's all too much so much of the time. I got tired of it. Your mileage may vary, and as a lover of sad-sacks, I will still check out "The Ask" and other Lipsyte works that might resonate more with me. I stuck with it after reading a review that noted a shift in the 2nd part; I would say that if you're not digging it in the 1st part, the 2nd part won't change it for you. If you're liking the style early on, you'll like the whole thing.
Jan 19, 2019 rated it did not like it
What a piece of pointless drivel. Writing unlikeable characters is one thing but writing one this badly? Inexcusable.
Gabriel Lister
Feb 21, 2019 rated it liked it
Enjoyed the characters and the general themes, but was hoping it would come together in a fuller sense.
Nina Dinh
Mar 03, 2019 rated it liked it
wtf did I just read
Feb 24, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I read Sam Lipsyte's THE ASK when it came out. Back in my brief and contended low desert valley period. Then I backed up and had at HOME LAND. When the story collection THE FUN PARTS appeared I eagerly breezed through it. I have become immoderately fond of Lipsyte. I am hardly alone. He is a genuine Archduke of comic gall, ace chronicler of the schlub and of the schlemiel. Much of his gamely disreputable high-wire drollery focuses on emasculation and varieties of dude lassitude, strains of spiri ...more
Amy Gennaro
Sep 26, 2019 rated it liked it
Thank you to the author Sam Lipsyte, the publisher and NetGalley for the ARC in exchange for my candid opinion.

I typically love satire and this book is transparent enough to sound somewhat like the current socio-political environment of the world and specifically the US. What I liked about it: it made some great points about the dangers of some current huge issues such as no one liking or believing anyone related to the government and too much digitalization/screen time. I did not re
Elizabeth Connor
Feb 20, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This is the first book from Sam Lipsyte that I have read and I only found out about it because I saw it on NetGalley and I thought it sounded interesting. I'm so glad to have read it. Where has Sam been all of my life?!

I enjoyed the writing so much that I found myself highlighting my “favorite” parts on almost every page. I read another review in which the critic felt that the author was a bit overly self-congratulatory on his cleverness. Perhaps there is some truth to that, but I might be self
Jamele (BookswithJams)
It helps to know up front that this book is satire. I did not and was thoroughly confused until I went back and read the synopsis. Then I was good to go and really enjoyed it, even chuckling out loud at a few lines. Taking a step back, I do think Lipsyte nailed how gullible our culture can be at times, aka blindly following someone that is hyped up as 'inspiring' without really hearing what their message is or doing any fact-checking on the person themselves. Case in point - the main character, ...more
Feb 22, 2019 rated it it was ok
I loved "The Ask" and I've enjoyed his short stories, but this book did not do much for me. The concept was sound, but it didn't really seem to have a "focus" (book joke) and I kept on waiting for it to improve. There were brief moments where I really liked where the story was leading, but then it would go in a different direction. I dunno, I love Sam Lipyste, but this book was not for me.
Joe Kraus
Jun 17, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: jewish-american
Before I started reading this one, I thought of Sam Lipsyte as possibly the funniest novelist writing today. (And that’s in a universe that includes Gary Shteyngart).

After reading it, I feel the same way, even though I think this one is a bit of a disappointment.

Page for page, this is hysterical. Lipsyte has a capacity for deadpan observation, for making the everyday miseries of life turn into humor, that never fails.

Here are a couple gems: At one point, our protagonist
Mar 03, 2019 rated it liked it
‘He came to us and was golden-y.’

I really wanted to love this book, and for the opening pages I felt that I would. With a hint of Douglas Coupland, I felt we were in zeitgeist territory, a satire for our time, casting a super-critical eye on beliefs, religion, big business, the internet, and health-food cafes…. The story of Hark Morner, a stand-up comedian turned guru (or messiah) who may or may not actually believe in anything he says. However, he is surrounded by his disciples of H
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Sam Lipsyte was born in 1968. He is the author of the story collection Venus Drive (named one of the top twenty-five book of its year by the Village Voice Supplement) and the novels The Subject of Steve and Home Land, winner of the Believer Book Award. Lipsyte teaches at Columbia Universitys School of The Arts and is a 2008 Guggenheim Fellow. He lives in Manhattan.
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