Thursday, June 14, 2012

Staff Pick?? - The Sugar Frosted Nutsack by Mark Leyner

Okay ... how do I describe The Sugar Frosted Nutsack (M) by Mark Leyner (which shall be referred to hereafter as TSFN)? Farcical? Satirical? Metafiction? Hipster fiction? Performance art?

If you are going to attempt TSFN, I will offer up some technical reading suggestions.

Step one: Throw away everything you believe to be true about fiction.
Step two: Relax your brain and accept each sentence as it comes.
Step three: See it through to the end. If meaning and plot are not apparent at first, they may be by the time you finish.
Step four: Explain the meaning and plot to me.

As near as I can tell, TSFN may be a creation-myth, told in Homeric fashion speaking of the capriciousness of the gods and the sad fate of mortals. Or, the deranged ramblings of a seriously disturbed and paranoid man. Or, some sort of reality television, performance art doomed to repeat itself to its forgone and tragic conclusion.

Our story opens with the gods living in a skyscraper in Dubai. Millions of years before any of these objects or ideas were created the gods busied themselves divvying up the mortal world. Imagine if you will an episode of Hoarders (M) with the gods semantically grouping like objects out of utter chaos each claiming dominion over seemingly unconnected objects. One god, with great foresight, claimed the little blue New York Times bags people used to scoop up their dog poop. A few twists of phrase and leaps of logic later, he found himself to be the god of time. The gods' world is a rather dull place without mortals. Enter Ike Karton the hero (?) of the tale. Ike is a 48 year old anti-Semitic unemployed butcher from New Jersey. His is an epic story and we know from the outset, and so does he, that his life will come to a violent end.

In this bizarro world, drugged blind bards are reciting the tale in Homeric fashion. Anytime anyone comments on the tale (and the narrator invites it) that information is absorbed and included in the next live performance. TSFN is itself is a performance and the narrator stops to solicit opinions on how the story is being received so far. Contemporary celebrities are thrown in in bold typeface and Leyner somehow draws a connections between such unlikely pairs as Dog the Bounty Hunter and Alan Greenspan. The narrator says the book is punishingly repetitive (and it is - he counts the number of times certain phrases are used) and virtually incomprehensible (and it is). Of course the gods have no intention of a non-interference policy. Especially pesky is the god XOXO, the god of concussions, dementia and alcoholic blackouts, who attempts to sabotage the narrative, and you, the reader, must counteract his efforts by chanting IKE IKE IKE IKE IKE in the same staccato fashion as Billy Joel's heart attack-ack-ack-ack-ack. Almost like clapping for Tinkerbell.

Readalikes? I haven't got a clue. Maybe Jasper Fforde (M)? Or perhaps The Tragedy of Arthur (M) by Arthur Phillips? Or Timequake (M) by Kurt Vonnegut?

1 comment:

  1. I love this post and I really want to read this book!