Friday, April 6, 2012

Book Review: The Sugar Frosted Nutsack

The Sugar Frosted Nutsack: A Novel by Mark Leyner (New York: Little, Brown, and Company, 2012. 247 pp)

Mark Leyner is a “postmodern” American author known for employing an unconventional writing style in his works of fiction. He is most well-known for The Tetherballs of Bougainville. Leyner has worked for Esquire, George, and is also a writer for MTV. He is also known for being critiqued in David Foster Wallace’s essay, “E Unibus Pluram: Television and U.S. Fiction.”

Just. Plain. Weird. 

While I have never been high on marijuana, I imagine the drug-induced feeling resembles The Sugar Frosted Nutsack. The book reads like Douglas Adams, author of The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, had a literary baby with a run-on-sentence. The Sugar Frosted Nutsack is most likely the weirdest novel I’ve ever read. But, in the interest of a longer review, I’ll try to recount the “plot” of the novel for your convenience. If anything, the novel is a tale of the gods.

The gods and goddesses of the world reside among the bustling metropolis of Dubai. These gods emerged 14 billion years ago from a bus, after a spring break party.
“During the Belle Époque—that period of time, about fourteen billion years ago, after the Gods were delivered by bus from some sort of ‘Spring Break’ during which they are said to have ‘gone wild’—the Gods put things in order, made them comprehensible, provided context, imposed coherence of meaning, i.e., they created the world as we know it today” (26).


Photo by Doug Focht
The bus, meanwhile, blares a tune sounding like the Mister Softee jingle. The gods, since they emerged from the bus, have wreaked havoc and mischief on mankind. The gods include Mogul Magoo, who is the god of the breast implant and the god of the nut sack; The god Fast-Cooking Ali, whose masterpiece is the creation of the woman’s bottom; The god Koji Mizokami who fashioned the composer Béla Bartók out of his own nether regions, and the god XOXO is of particular note.
“The God of Head Trauma (who was also, of course, the God of Concussions, the God of Dementia, the God of Alcoholic Blackouts, the God of Brainwashing, Implanted Thoughts, and Cultural Amnesia) was called El Cucho (‘The Old Man’). This was a facetious epithet because El Cucho had a lustrously youthful appearance—a million-watt smile and a streaming surfer-boy mane of blond hair. He wore a tiger-skin loincloth. In the eternal schism between El Brazo and La Felina on one side versus Mogul Magoo and his snake-headed Pistoleras on the other, El Cucho (who as also known as ‘Kid Coma’ and ‘XOXO’) was firmly in the El Brazo / La Felina camp. XOXO liked sitting around with circus performers and hockey players and boxers and plying them with drugged sherbet. He liked to mess with people’s minds—to make them forget things or put alien ideas in their heads. (Year after year, he was consistently voted both ‘Most Sadistic’ and ‘Friendliest’ God by his peers!)” (17).

Ike the Butcher 

Photo by Thomas Hawk
These strange gods, then, emerge from fighting and spring-break-partying and begin to act as noble bards, reenacting and reciting the famous Ike Karton’s story. Ike is a forty-eight year old unemployed butcher from New Jersey, who is evidently loved by the gods. He’s the latest craze.
Ike’s a Taurus and an autodidact, and his diction tends to be Victorian, actually (think Matthew Arnold and Thomas Hardy). The ‘real’ Ike is such a sweetheart, such a pussycat in a way…although he’s capable of unprovoked spasms of explosive violence where you’re like:

I cannot believe
He just did that” (46).
Ike is a borderline anti-Semite, and a favorite of the goddess La Felina (the usually stoned goddess of humility) whose refrain for him is “Ike Always Keeps It Simple and Sexy”. The gods recount the tale of how Ike seduces La Felina and also eventually commits suicide by being killed by a police officer.

A Hallucination

The immortal XOXO, however, hacks into the tale from which the gods recite. He tries to make it too confusing to read (like the novel itself). The immortal XOXO plagues the book with randomness, tons of clichés, and strange references to Alan Greenspan. XOXO tries to make Mark Leyner’s book stranger than Leyner himself actually wrote! While hard to read, the tactic of writing a novel which was “hacked” by one of its characters is ingenious. It explains the complexity and why the book reads like a major Hunter S. Thompson hallucination.

The book is extremely complicated, and doesn’t have a strong sense of plot or character development. With run-on sentences, random bolded and italicized words, and neo-mythology the book is original, to say the least. At the same time, I feel like original isn’t a good enough word. Try The Sugar Frosted Nutsack if you dare—you may like it, and you may not, just be prepared for complete weirdness.

Verdict: 2 out of 5
Posted by: Andrew Jacobson

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