Saturday, December 22, 2018
AO Scott on Sam Lipsyte novels on the Gen X male
I may or may not read the latest lad-lit semi-ironic satire of the aging suburban Gen X white male from fifty-year-old author and Columbia creative writing professor Sam Lipsyte, Hark. But I certainly enjoyed the clever, erudite, and self aware review from one of my favorite critics, the New York Times' A.O. Scott:
"Sam Lipsyte's Lame Send-up of a Guru and his Acolytes," published recently in The Atlantic.
as someone who has been there—who’s still there, thickening and graying as the Millennials and the Gen Z kids dethrone my idols and refuse to laugh at my jokes—I regard The Ask as one of the most unbearable and hilarious books I’ve ever read. Accordingly, I had great hopes for Hark, which might have been a mistake, given that the cumulative lesson of all of Lipsyte’s fiction (two books of stories, Venus Drive and The Fun Parts, in addition to the novels) is that low expectations are the only reasonable kind.
But somebody might. Most of all, the gestures toward Major Novel status in Hark—Pynchony, Lethem-esque names like Hark Morner and Fraz Penzig, Dieter Delgado and Teal Baker-Cassini; Infinite Jesticles in the form of wacky brand names and inscrutable terrorist organizations; intimations of apocalypse that accelerate in the book’s final pages—have an air of desperation. The impulse to make big thematic statements is accompanied, and perhaps defeated, by a joke-making reflex, as if attempted seriousness has triggered a kind of autoimmune response: