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Dogma: A Novel Paperback – February 21, 2012
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The Amazon Book Review
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"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)
—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."
"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."
"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."
"[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."
"[T]here is then a lot to enjoy, if not much to move you."
"[S]uperbly accomplished absurdity."
"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
—The Washington Post
—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.”
"Ought to be unreadable, but manages to be intelligent, wildly entertaining, and unexpectedly moving instead."
Top Customer Reviews
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?Read more ›
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.Read more ›