Contemporary Short Novels for Your Summer Reading Pleasure

Spurious by Lars Iyer

Here we have the tale of a booze-fueled jaunt with two English scholar/writer/intellectuals, the narrator (who happens to be named Lars) and his slightly smarter companion (which he only identifies as W.). Throughout most of the book, W. tears at the narrator for being an idiot and blames Lars for dragging him down with his foolishness and laziness, specifically pointing out that he hasn’t accomplished anything worthwhile and that all of his ideas are stale. Both of them wish they could be Franz Kafka or director Béla Tarr, washing away their worries about the apocalypse with gin as they travel by train across Europe. Meanwhile, in alternating chapters, Lars finds that his house is slowly being overcome by a mysterious, inexplicable fungus (that, of course, doubles as a metaphor). As overly arty as it might sound at first blush (a sort of caustic My Dinner With Andre, perhaps), Iyer’s book is actually filled with sly humor, as Lars eventually develops the courage to fight back at his friend and nemesis, whose over-the-top insults ultimately come back to show his own frailty and weaknesses in more ways than he’d hope.