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Dogma: A Novel Paperback – February 21, 2012

3.8 out of 5 stars 4 customer reviews
Book 2 of 3 in the Spurious Series

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Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

In this follow-up to Spurious (2011), W. and his faithful companion, Lars, head off to America for a philosophical lecture tour. The tour doesn’t quite go according to plan, leaving only two choices: give up, or throw together a new philosophical system, an intellectual movement that will capture the minds and hearts of Americans. They call it Dogma, a deceptively simple system of few rules. This is a clever novel, with plenty of wit and cockeyed perspectives, but it’s not for everyone. The stream-of-consciousness style can be a bit tricky, with paragraphs that don’t seem to flow into each other and thoughts that seem to come out of left field, and then go back there again, without being tied to anything going on in the narrative. The book only achieves full coherence after you’ve finished it, when all of its parts have finally come together and the intent becomes clear. A challenging book, but one that rewards the reader in the end. --David Pitt


Praise for Dogma

"Dogma by Lars Iyer is the kind of book that we are always told never gets published any more: uncompromisingly intellectual, passing strange and absurdly funny. If Lars Iyer hadn't already written Spurious, it would be possible to call his second novel a unique event. As it is, it's just more of the same, only better. Iyer's weird talent continues to grow, and the misadventures of his miserable characters are starting to seem like the brightest things in modern British fiction." -- The Guardian (chosen as one of 2012's Best Books of the Year)

" Uproarious." 
—New York Times Book Review

"Dogma, like its prequel Spurious, is provocative in its arguments, scrupulously plain in its style and excoriating in its honesty. Iyer is an author who rejects the parochialism and timidity we too often associate with British novelists in favour of an ugly grapple with the big themes."
—The Spectator

"More or less plotless novels about a couple of bickering, self-pitying intellectuals and their recondite obsessions ought to be tiresome slogs, but Lars and W.’s circular and frequently repetitive dialogue is so witheringly, gut-bustingly funny that Spurious and Dogma both maintain a madcap forward momentum even as their characters remain stalled."
—The New Inquiry

"[Dogma] brings back W. and Lars, the most unlikely and absurd literary duo since Samuel Beckett's Vladimir and Estragon....Like Godot, this novel is a philosophical rumination, at once serious and playful, on the nature of existence and meaning. While it's comic, there is at bottom a profoundly tragic sense of the chaos and emptiness of modern life. Despair has rarely been so entertaining."
—Library Journal

"The United Kingdom has a Thomas Bernhard, and his name is Lars Iyer....Dogma is hilarious and bleak and loaded with illuminating, brilliant passages, and Iyer’s rapid-fire staccato prose is well-suited to the task. For those who like their dark, difficult books to be funny."
—Hey, Small Press!

"Brilliantly written and very funny, operating like a combination between Waiting for Godot and Withnail and I."
—The Millions

"[T]his book is first and foremost spectacularly funny, full of insults, observations, and absurdities that seem appropriate for these times of crisis and austerity."
—Full Stop

"[T]here is then a lot to enjoy, if not much to move you."
Quarterly Conversation

"[S]uperbly accomplished absurdity."
The Rumpus

"Lars Iyer's work ranks alongside the hauntological novels of Tom McCarthy and Lee Rourke, which excavate the lost futures of literary modernity."

“The epithet ‘Beckettian’ is perhaps the most overused in criticism, frequently employed as a proxy for less distinguished designations such as ‘sparse’ or ‘a bit depressing’. But Lars Iyer’s fiction richly deserves this appellation. His playfully spare—and wryly depressing—landscape, incorporating a bickering double act on a hopeless, existential journey, is steeped in the bathos, farce, wordplay and metaphysics of the man John Calder referred to as ‘the last of the great stoics’, its characters accelerating towards a condition of eternal silence, fuelled only by the necessity of speaking out.”
—The Times Literary Supplement

Praise for Spurious
“It’s wonderful. I'd recommend the book for its insults alone.”
Sam Jordison, The Guardian
"I'm still laughing, and it's days later.”
The Los Angeles Times
“Fearsomely funny.”
The Washington Post
"Viciously funny."
San Francisco Chronicle
"A tiny marvel.... [A] wonderfully monstrous creation."
Steven Poole, The Guardian
“This novel has a seductive way of always doubling back on itself, scorching the earth but extracting its own strange brand of laughter from its commitment to despair.”
The Believer
"Ought to be unreadable, but manages to be intelligent, wildly entertaining, and unexpectedly moving instead."
The Millions

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Melville House; Reprint edition (February 21, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1612190464
  • ISBN-13: 978-1612190464
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.6 x 7.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 7 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #429,127 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By TChris TOP 100 REVIEWER on February 27, 2012
Format: Paperback
Lars and W., two friends last seen wandering through life in Spurious, return in Dogma. The end is still near. Lars is still the butt of W's scathing criticism and the recipient of his opinions on subjects ranging from courtship to capitalism. Lars' flat is still damp. Lars and W. are still loyal to their idealistic vision of an unspoiled Canada. They are still fond of Kafka and Plymouth gin. They are still trying to understand religion and Rosenzweig. They still embrace life while feeling defeated by it, no more consequential than "leaves swept up in an autumn storm."

New in Dogma: W. images himself as Diogenes during a visit to Nashville ("the Athens of the South"), while deeming Lars "a Diogenes gone mad"; Lars and W. compare the British to Americans (who can't make true distinctions, particularly when it comes to gin); Lars writes poetry of despair; W. takes Lars on a pointing tour of Plymouth (where Lars photographs W. pointing at architecture he admires).

Also new is the intellectual movement that W. and Lars decide to christen. They call it Dogma. Dogma has rules. Dogma is spartan, full of pathos, sincere, and collaborative. Ironically, W. and Lars are none of those things, making them poor standard-bearers for the movement they invent. They are, however, according to W., "the last friends of thought." It is up to them to keep thought alive. That effort is slightly hampered by a new rule: "The Dogmatist must always be drunk" because "who can bear the thoughts that must be thought?
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Format: Paperback
Dogma, unlike the author's previous novel, Spurious, has received mixed reviews. The latter was welcomed as a masterpiece, but when it came to the former the critics were not that enthusiastic. Now that I have read the novel I can say that I really wonder why? Why did they not like it as much as Spurious? For me this a great novel, as it combines humor, irony, philosophical thought, amazing discussions-monologues and a peripatetic mood.
Even though Dogma is the second novel in a not so closely knit trilogy, which will come to its end next year with the Exodus, one can easily read it as a standalone volume.
The main protagonists in this story are two friends: W, who's a Catholic Jew atheist and Lars, who's more or less, or rather less than more, Hindu. The first thinks too much and philosophizes a lot about the end of days, while at the same time he's preparing two projects on capitalism and religion ("Capitalism is the evil twin of true religion," he claims), while the second just lives, or maybe I should say survives, in the shadow of his friend. I think that this is one of the oddest couple of friends that I've ever encountered in world literature. They are so different from each other that the only thing that seems to keep them close together is the simple fact that no one else could ever put up with them. W on the one hand, never stops thinking and talking, every now and then he points his poisonous words towards his friend, who's a non-thinker, he often enough throws one-liners in their conversations while trying to make a point, he gets angry and revolts constantly, at least in his head, and he makes new decisions all the time; decisions which sometimes he sticks to, but most times he doesn't; to put it simply he's not only a man of words, but also one of action.
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Format: Kindle Edition
OK, I guess. Maybe I just didn't get it but I didn't see much humor or much point.
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Format: Paperback
This is the sequel to SPRURIOUS and like its predecessor, quite funny in parts.I thought the funniest part was when W compares himself to a mandrill.Like SPURIOUS, Lars and W spend a lot of time discussing and thinking about esoterica and getting drunk.It does get a little wearisome after 50 pages but you feel compelled to finish it.The book is a good advertisement for Plymouth gin.I'm not real convinced that there is much point in the further adventures of Lars and W.
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