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Hark

by Sam Lipsyte

Is Hark a mountebank? Or does he really have the secret that will solve all the problems of a disintegrating world? He says not, but can we believe a word that he tells us? Did his mother really believe that Hark was the name of the Herald Angel? What does he mean by 'Focus'? Could his ideas save the world? The question at the heart of the story is a simple one: can Hark be trusted?

Extract

'Legend tells us' Hark says, 'that an Austrian reeve, or bailiff, if you will, named Gessler, erected a pole in the village of Altdorf. Upon the pole, he hung his cap and ordered all who passed to honour it with a reverent bow.

One day, celebrated Alpine activist William Tell arrived with his son and made it a public point to ignore the command. Gessler was incensed. He arrested the Tells and sentenced both man and boy to death, with the now notorious caveat: If Tell could split an apple set atop his son's head, they'd both go free.

Parallels

Stranger in a Strange Land by Robert Heinlein
The Book of Strange New Things by Michel Faber
 

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