By Sam Lipsyte

** publication date 15 January 2019 **

Based on the description of this book, I had really high expectations for it. I wasn’t disappointed, but it definitely took me a while to get there. Hark is a semi-dystopian tale about a new “messiah.” I say semi-dystopian, because clearly it takes place in America, but it’s not the America we know today.

Most of the book is written from Fraz’s point of view. Fraz is a disillusioned, rather unmotivated middle aged man. He comes across this man called Hark who is preaching a new way of thinking. Mental archery is his thing. Draw the bow and let your arrow fly. What does that mean? I’m still not 100% sure after working my way through the novel. Fraz is in a semi-unhappy marriage in this semi-dystopian world. He becomes a Harker, one of the core group of supporters, though his place is rather unknown.

Then there is wealthy Kate. She’s a huge Hark supporter, both emotionally and financially. She is independently wealthy. There is Teal, a longtime friend of Kate’s, who has served time for some white collar crime. Add in assorted others and you have an interesting group of people. A group of people trying to push this Hark way of living and breathing, even though Hark himself is quite unsure of what his message is.

I struggled through part one. Part two picked up, and part three blew by. But part one was absolutely a slow, difficult part of the story. It is not that the story is uninteresting. Quite the opposite. It just seems long and drawn out at times. Too much story, not enough action maybe. Then all of a sudden it picks up steam, and you roll on through the end. 

This story in some ways makes me think about the current world in which we live, and I hope that we don’t end up the way that the world of Hark is. It is as though our world took some powerful drugs to turn even more materialistic and cynical. Without saying more, as I don’t want to be a spoiler, it’s a frightening concept.

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