"What we lack in intellectual ability and real knowledge, we make up for in pathos, W. says."
As someone who has devoted an inordinate amount of my life worrying about literature and philosophy and aesthetics, but who often suspects that I've learned next to nothing for all those hours spent reading, and who knows for a fact that I'm certainly less wealthy for all those hours, and who often wonders, as W. wonders, if I'll every have a halfway decent thought in my entire life, Spurious was an epiphany for me. Because the novel makes it painfully, poignantly clear that a passion for thought, for philosophy, and for literature is a foolish pursuit, a laughable pursuit, but that, for people of a certain temperament, it is also an unavoidable pursuit. Lars and W. have no choice. They will bicker and stumble and read and theorize until the day they die. But they will not be judged, in the end, by success or by failure. They need not be Kafkas, or leaders, or thinkers. They will be judged by the pathos of their character. By their idiotic joys, their nightlong revels, their endless friendship.
For me, this thin, devilish book reframed the rules of my days, and erased a longterm source of doubt and sometimes shame. Because I see now that intellectual pursuits need not have purpose nor consequence. It is not a practical endeavor. It is merely a way of living. A foolish way of living, or perhaps I should say, another foolish way of living. But there's charm and pleasure to be had along the way. And this small revelation has been quite a relief to me. For which I'm grateful.
"How can we breathe?" Lars and W. ask. "But an encounter with a real thinker is precisely that breath."
That's how I felt upon finishing Spurious: that I had been given a much needed breath of air after years and years of suffocating pages.
HenryL, Not the Booker review