cover image My Weil

My Weil

Lars Iyer. Melville House, $17.99 trade paper (352p) ISBN 978-1-68589-060-5

Iyer (Nietzsche and the Burbs) delves into the lives of a group of PhD students in this satirical outing. Johnny, the narrator, leads a misfit band of philosophers as they procrastinate writing their dissertations and ponder the concept of the apocalypse in Manchester, England. When a new student named Simone Weil joins their ranks, the group becomes infatuated with her, each for varying reasons. Ismail sees her as a symbol of purity in their tainted world, as she dedicates herself to helping the homeless in at-risk areas; Johnny falls in love with her. When Simone is stabbed and ends up in the hospital, their idealized view of her becomes etched in stone. Soon after, the city’s electric grid shuts down, and the group explores a mystical landfill called the Ees, where they consume potent psychedelic mushrooms. Either an apocalypse actually happens or it’s a hallucination—Iyer isn’t clear. Amid this chaos, Johnny finds himself in a house at the center of the Ees, accompanied by Simone, who no longer recalls her saintly persona. Iyer pokes fun at his characters and their pretentious references to music by Joy Division and films like Tarkovsky’s Stalker, though he takes seriously his theme of existential dread. Memorable characters make this a singular exploration of the human condition. (Aug.)