Lars Iyer's novel Spurious is hands down the best debut novel I've read in years. It is up for the Not the Booker prize 2011.
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Laurel and Hardy, Bert and Ernie, Withnail and Marwood... double acts have long delighted us. Couples, it seems, are intrinsically funny. Lars and W., the heroes of Lars Iyer's novel Spurious – and, in their own way, fighting damp, fighting their stupidity, squabbling with each other, they are heroic – easily join the ranks of the best of them. Two intellectuals – and not ‘would-be intellectuals’ either, our heroes are clever and well-read, but know, because of this, how little they know, how huge is their ignorance – who battle and bond, who gossip, grumble and gripe. W. castigates, Lars reports back. Their squabbles are incessant and repetitive, but there is no enmity here: “W. tests me on Spinoza: What is a mode? What’s a substance? What’s an atttibute? ... W. tells me ... ‘get The Idiot’s Guide to Spinoza, then. But that’ll be too hard, too. Start with these letters on a piece of paper: S-P-I-N-O-Z-A. Ponder that in your stupidity’.” Clever about how being clever is never that far from being daft as a brush, rarely ennobling, and mostly just beside the point, this is one of funniest books about friendship I’ve ever read.