*I received this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.*
Author: Sam Lipsyte
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Publication Date: January 15, 2019
Synopsis from Goodreads:
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.
Lipstye’s satire presents a look at modern life as an emerging guru bursts into the market with a hodgepodge spiritual method that takes the world by storm. This story takes us deep into the lives of his closest followers whose lives are anything but perfect. While deeply devoted to his “mental archery” program, his followers are far from attaining any level of perfection or calm that one would expect of the inner sanctum.
This story is a commentary on our society’s wayward movement from one spiritual fad to another. Many blindly follow the latest craze with little deeper thought and Hark is representative of how one charismatic individual can lead a nation with little but a good story and conviction.
I was not totally into this story. It had a hard time holding my attention so I struggled to make it through. I found Hark to be an incredibly interesting and captivating character. As a nouveau tele-evangelist is story is so complex as is his character, but not nearly enough time is spent getting to know him. He’s snarky, narcissistic, and as a nationally recognized spiritual leader he’s got this potential for a fascinating balance between private and public life that makes for an alluring tale. However, too much time was spent on those around Hark. The book had more focus on vapid, pessimistic, self-centred characters who were not all that interested when it had a central figure that held the capacity to create a very captivating story. Hark is an intelligent rumination, but it’s characterization just wasn’t there for me.
I hope you enjoy it more than I did!