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My Cousin, My Gastroenterologist by Mark Leyner
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Nov 18, 10

bookshelves: fiction-mainstream
Read in November, 2010

46. Leyner, Mark. MY COUSIN, MY GASTROENTEROLOGIST. (1990). *. If you read this book, you will probably think that one star is too high of a rating – and you would be right. It’s hard to describe. There is no plot line, per se. There are no characters of any importance – besides the author/narrator – that you can follow, so there is, obviously, no character development. The setting is mostly New Jersey, but it could be anywhere, so there is no sense of place. Maybe a series of quotes will give you an idea:

p. 17: “Soon psychopathology replaced ethnicity as the critical demographic determinant. There were no longer Italian neighborhoods, or Cuban neighborhoods, or Irish or Greek neighborhoods. There were Anorexic neighborhoods, and narcissistic neighborhoods, and Manic and Compulsive neighborhoods. There was no longer a Columbus Day parade or a Puerto Rico Day parade; there was an Agoraphobics Day parade. Fifth Avenue lined with police barricades, traffic diverted. But, of course, the designated route was empty, utterly desolate, because the paraders, the spectators, even the Grand Marshal himself – agoraphobics each and every one – had all stayed away, each locked within the “safety” of his or her own home.” Or,

p. 57. Chapter 6: “The Suggestiveness of One Stray Hair in an Otherwise Perfect Coiffure: He’s got a car bomb. He puts the key in the ignition and turns it – the car blows up. He gets out. He opens the hood and makes a cursory inspection. He closes the hood and gets back in. He turns the key in the ignition. The car blows up. He gets out and slams the door shut disgustedly. He kicks the tire. He takes off his jacket and shimmies under the chassis. He pokes around. He slides back out and wipes the grease off his shirt. He puts his jacket back on. He gets in. He turns the key in the ignition. The car blows up, sending debris into the air and shattering windows for blocks. He gets out and says, Damn it! He calls a tow truck. He gives them his AAA membership number. They tow the car to an Exxon station. The mechanic gets in and turns the key in the ignition. The car explodes, demolishing the gas pumps, the red-and-blue Exxon logo high atop its pole bursting like a balloon on a string. The mechanic steps out. You got a car bomb, he says. The man rolls his eyes. I know that, he says.”

I could go on quoting pieces and chapters. None of them seems to be related to each other. There is no forward motion, nor is there an intent to tell a story. This is just a bunch of schizoid sketches stitched together into one package.
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Michael It's a collection of short stories...


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