Intoxication Without the Sex: Thoughts on Lars Iyer’s Dogma

As you no doubt already know, the heroes of Lars Iyer’s debut novel Spurious recently returned for another round. Too bad for poor W., Dogma goes the way of a downward spiral. Ah, I’m sorry, I’m supposed to alert the unsuspecting reader of spoilers, aren’t I, and then tuck them under the fold. If you fear further insensitivity, rest easy, it won’t happen again. For indeed, what strikes me as interesting about Dogma is that there is remarkably little else for a reviewer to release prematurely.

This is, for those who keep score of such things, of a piece with Iyer’s much discussed literary manifesto declaring the end of literature. Or certainly our response to its demise. Do we, for example, dare look for who has bloodied hands, since we may not have cleaned all well under our own fingernails? Might we eat the corpse, and attempt to find nourishment from the decaying heap at out feet? Or is it better to leave the dead for the dead, and find something else entirely to occupy our attention? However we choose, there is no avoiding the fact that something has been lost. How, then, to appreciate the abyss without falling in it is the question. Continue reading “Intoxication Without the Sex: Thoughts on Lars Iyer’s Dogma

Lars and W. Do America: A review of Lars Iyer’s Dogma

Few writers have captured the despair and self-loathing that necessarily accompany the academic life as perfectly as Lars Iyer, and surely fewer have done it so humorously. Spurious established the tone for the trilogy, immersing us in the abusive relationship between W. and Lars, in W.’s continually thwarted desires to somehow become worthy of philosopy, and in the sheer squalor of Lars’s existence. The infamous “damp” infecting Lars’s apartment resonated with the wisdom of the ancient Israelites, for whom mildew was a matter to be handled by the religious authorities.

By now, it’s practically required by law to compare Iyer’s work to Beckett and Bernhard, and while those comparisons are surely accurate, there is also something new and intriguing in Iyer’s framing. Continue reading “Lars and W. Do America: A review of Lars Iyer’s Dogma

Review of Lars Iyer’s Spurious

While reading Lars Iyer’s recently released novel Spurious I had the curious feeling that he had somehow hacked my Gmail account and read the by-now-countless conversations I’ve had with my closest friends. My suspicion is, considering you lot keep coming around here, where posts untold were first given life in and left germs all over our respective chat archives, that if given the chance you’ll find Iyer cribbing from your conversations as well.

As with Beckett and Bernhard before him, nobody will be fooled by the apparent simplicity of Spurious. Two men, both reasonably intelligent academics, talk. And that is it, really. They talk on trains, on the phone, at the pub. There is talk of action, but no action as such. Well, no, that’s not quite true, is it? Talking is an action, too, after all. It may be more dull than, say, sex (one hopes), and more slow than a high-speed chase, but conversation, the simple being-with somebody else, is perhaps a more primal act than we, who are often bored with those with whom we have to spend time, might wish to believe. The main characters of Spurious, W. & Lars (the first-person narrator), are bound together in this primal act. They are, in fact, in talking, and I dare say only in talking, each other’s Messiah (149)—i.e., the (one) “to come” that “has come.” Fitting, perhaps, that the Messiah of a world such as ours should be so gloriously pitiful. Continue reading “Review of Lars Iyer’s Spurious