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The Sugar Frosted Nutsack by Mark Leyner
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Apr 02, 12

Read in March, 2012

3.5 stars rounded up for the sake of audacity and originality -- and the excitement/expectation/military-grade Gravy-like ecstasy I felt with my hands on a new Mark Leyner novel after a 15-year absence. I didn't mind that it's a looping, recursive epic, with excruciating redundancies, heavy-handed, stilted tropes and wearying cliches, overwrought angst, gnomic non sequiturs, off-putting adolescent scatology and cringe-inducing smuttiness, depraved tableaus and orgies of masturbation with all their bulging, spurting shapes, and compulsive repetitions about Freud's repetition compulsion . . . That last bit there I plagiarized from the novel -- it's compulsively repeated throughout, like a built-in critique for lazy haters to use. I laughed out loud or made strange happy vocal noises maybe 40+ times? Bothered wifey several times with requests to let me read aloud to her. There's a ZINGER of a John Cage joke. There's a tearing-up-laughing joke about Dick Van Dyke. And otherwise there's typical Leyner brand pyrotechnic high-lit pop-lit satirical silliness, featuring clinical language mixed with Romantic language mixed with postmodern theory language mixed with Jerry Springer language mixed with tabloid language mixed with online commentary language, all of it undermined by a god named XOXO. This sort of thing is not for everyone. Not at all for everyone (all the exasperated one- and two-star reviews by people who won this book through goodreads are awesome!). If you like Charlie Kaufman movies ("Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind" or "Being John Malkovich"), more recent George Saunders (Leyner has the same agent, Binky Urban), the wackier DFW stuff (Leyner has the same editor, Michael Pietsch), you'll bask in this intentionally over-the-top hi-falutin mock-Homeric craziness. If you don't like the aforementioned stuff, if you're a picky humorless reader who cares about character development and plot and emotionality, that is, anything more than riffs about gods doing human characters with the frozen head of Ted Williams used as an anal bead once the human character is increased in size by the god to 50 feet, etc, I wouldn't bother with this one. But otherwise, if you're interested in an example of truly LOL writing that's unhinged and intelligent and puerile and SO FREAKING POMO and, importantly, serves as a great example of a book that teaches you how to read it, Leyner is at the very least a demi-god. Otherwise, this was maybe too long for me by 100 quick pages. An absolute must for fans of seriously funny effed-up writing. Familiarity with medical terminology a plus!


Here's a Mark Leyner profile in the New York Times if you need a refresher on who he is and where he's been: http://www.nytimes.com/2012/03/25/mag...

Here's a review by Ben Marcus in the New York Times Book Review: http://www.nytimes.com/2012/04/01/boo...
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