Monday, April 9, 2012

Review: The Sugar Frosted Nutsack

Review: The Sugar Frosted Nutsack by Mark Leyner

Leyner's return to fiction excited me a great deal -- I'm a big fan of his earlier novels Et Tu, Babe and The Tetherballs of Bougainville. Frosted isn't necessarily as jaunty a farrago as the other two novels, but it has its selling points. Leyner seems to be spoofing mythology, storytelling and Scripture in his endlessly self-referential, repetitive narrative about a bunch of annoying gods who control the life of one particularly annoying, muscular, anti-Semitic unemployed, wife-beater-wearing butcher in Jersey City, whose daughter may have had a love child with one of the gods. It's as if he saw a person matching the physical description of said butcher in Jersey City (Leyner lives in nearby Hoboken) on some Saturday afternoon and decided to turn him into a faux-heroic figure. The narrative, such as it is, marches in toward a predetermined finale that may or may not happen, depending on the arrival of the Mossad and some new gods. Of course, there's drugs (Gravy, favored of the gods and the butcher), and there's a bunch of blind, Homer-like bards who sing the entire story (including additions by a god who seems to like messing with people's minds and souls) while banging out rhythms on cans of orange soda. Like Hebrew Scripture and Homeric poetry, there's repetition, and like metafiction, the story continually turns in on itself. If it's a commentary on anything, it's a commentary on commentaries, on the impossibility of commenting on literature, because once commented upon, the story changes and makes the commentaries part of the narrative and thus completely irrelevant. Or something. I liked it.

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