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The Sugar Frosted Nutsack by Mark Leyner
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The Sugar Frosted Nutsack (original 2012; edition 2012)

by Mark Leyner

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847142,561 (2.81)1
Member:davidabrams
Title:The Sugar Frosted Nutsack
Authors:Mark Leyner
Info:Little, Brown and Company (2012), Edition: 1, Hardcover, 256 pages
Collections:Your library
Rating:****
Tags:humor, Kobo

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The Sugar Frosted Nutsack by Mark Leyner (2012)

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'Tis a book of opposites. Intellectual and low-brow. Erudite and juvenile. The Sugar Frosted Nutsack is in-your-face postmodernism and self-referential to the max. Reminded me, in some ways, of a book by a young Scottish whippersnapper named MJ Nichols while he was in college. If you are new to Leyner and his comedy of the absurd, I recommend you start with My Cousin, My Gastroenterologist instead. I still find MCMG to be his best and most startling work. I have enjoyed all his fiction to one degree or another, but I've never felt he attained quite the anarchic glee of that first short story collection. And in the case of The Sugar Frosted Nutsack, he has taken his absurdity quite seriously...and the result is something less humorous and less surprising...if smarter (in some ways).

The premise, roughly (and it can only be captured roughly as the premise of the book itself is constantly under attack by the book), is: one blue-collar anti-Semite (self-satirically?) unemployed anarcho-primitivist (in name only?) Ike Karton (Kike Cartoon?) is a pawn of—and masturbatory object of—a ridiculous crew of all-powerful yet entirely petty Gods and Goddesses. Got that? I thought so. To continue: Ike Karton has visions of his own impending death (suicide by cop? fall guy for the Gods?), and he slowly moves toward it through the book while the book itself represents his story as an oral Bible. An oral retelling of his life becomes the Bible of civilization and TSFN continually recaptures and recaptures the telling of the retelling of the retelling his life in fits and starts. Bible, as in, apparently, in this world there is only one religion left standing, the worship of Ike Karton and his family, and this book Cliff Notes his story. Unfortunately, for us and for Ike, the Gods are (maybe) vying for (or in cahoots, taking turns for)...power? entertainment? the best pranks on humanity?)...and as a result, everything is just pretty much...fucked up.

And like any good postmodern romp, the story eats itself over and over again. Referring to itself, accusing itself of rewriting itself. The author showing his cards, pulls the rug out from under you, and tricks you. Giving you a sense of meaning, then stealing it.

Makes sense? Piece of cake.

I'm going to relate two quotes from the book.

This first quote is the author stating what the "innermost secret" of the "epic" is. And I believe he is blatantly stating it even though it is couched in the ridiculous.

[Note, when I reference T.S.F.N, this is exactly how Leyner writes it, and he also includes the boldface and italics...something he does throughout the entire book in a way that is clearly annoying, but I suspect intentionally annoying.]

This is the innermost secret of the epic. Before the arrival of the Gods, everything was wildly italicized. This was the time of the so-called “Spring Break." There were only phenomena and vaguely defined personages, and there was really no discernible distinction between phenomena and personages. There were no "Gods” per se, no dramatis personae, there was only an undifferentiated, unidimensional T.S.F.N.—only the infinitely recursive story and its infinitely droning loops, varying infinitesimally with each iteration. But once the Gods arrived and got off the bus, they insisted on being boldfaced signifiers. The whole epic is about the war on the part of T.S.F.N. to vanquish the boldfaced signifiers and reestablish the "golden age" when things happened without any discernible context; when there were no recognizable patterns; when it was all incoherent; when isolated, disjointed events would take place only to be engulfed by an opaque black void, their relative meaning, their significance, annulled by the eons of entropic silence that estranged one form from the next...

Replace "eons of entropic silence" with "the way this book is written" and you've pretty much got it. Leyner is vanquishing sense and sensibility in an orgy of self-contradiction. Leading you to think there is meaning and then snatching it away in an impossible attempt to recreate meaninglessness meaning. So, there you have it.

This second quote is essentially Leyner providing a critical description of the tone of the story and it neatly sums up the premise as well. As he writes, "Even those who consider all this total bullshit have to concede that it's upscale, artisanal bullshit of the highest order."

Indeed. Indeed. ( )
2 vote David_David_Katzman | Feb 22, 2014 |
Uggnahgahhh...

Conceptually fun; tedious in execution. ( )
  smhb | Apr 14, 2013 |
This is roughly what John Barth's novella cycle Chimera would be if it were actually funny. Which is to say, it's pretty good! ( )
  nostalgebraist | Mar 31, 2013 |
Review:

I had to do a double-take when I saw this cover on Amazon, The Sugar Frosted Nutsack...? What in the world is that about??? There were quite a few plot scenarios going through my head in that moment, but not one of them came close to the asinine truth. I can find something good to say about every book I read, but this... novel... threw me for a loop. I had to force myself to get past chapter one, the language and ridiculous names/concepts insulting. I understood that there were Gods and Goddesses, and that they all had a few "screws loose", but other than that, I couldn't figure out what in the world was actually happening. The characters seemed to do things for no reason in particular, and without reason there was only chaos - a collection of nonsensical phrases leading nowhere. I guess the only redeemable qualities I could find were Mark Leyner's word choices and sentence formats, but even they could not make me overlook the obvious flaws. I felt like I was trying to read as fast as humanly possible in order to finish, the inane characters and dialogue far from attention-worthy. I usually prefer ideas that are out-of-the box, but the highly repetitive and annoying dialogue left me drowning and confused in a sea of sugar frosted frivolity. Enjoyed the handful of laughs, but overall, I felt that the book was, "artisanal bull[****] of the highest order," (TSFN p.199). I can not honestly recommend this as suitable reading material for any age...

Rating: Toe-Tag (1/5)

*** I received this book from the author in exchange for an honest and unbiased review. ( )
  Allizabeth | Jul 24, 2012 |
(Reprinted from the Chicago Center for Literature and Photography [cclapcenter.com]. I am the original author of this essay, as well as the owner of CCLaP; it is not being reprinted illegally.)

It would not be off the mark to call Mark Leyner the "King of the Bizarro Authors," given that he is one of the only practitioners in the whole country of this "Monty Python meets Psychobilly" subgenre to regularly score lucrative contracts with large mainstream publishers, and to be featured in such national media outlets as Entertainment Weekly. And now after a long hiatus, he's finally back with a new novel, the appropriately absurdist The Sugar Frosted Nutsack; and after reading through this latest inspired piece of weirdness, it's easy to see why he's the undisputed king of this particular genre, because the pure sense of imagination that Leyner brings to the table far outstrips almost anything that almost any other American bizarro author is writing these days. Ostensibly about a group of ancient gods that are still around to meddle in human affairs, now living in a penthouse apartment at the top of a Dubai skyscraper, like most bizarro novels this is merely chapter-one window-dressing so that the marketing people have something to write on the dust jacket, with the story quickly expanding so to eventually be about everything in the world and nothing all at the same time, a gloriously chaotic wallowing in the pure joy of language itself, a proud literary tradition that (with a little squinting) can be directly traced all the way back to G.K. Chesterton at the end of the Victorian Age. Granted, this is a bawdy and hyperactive version of Chesterton, but I believe that proto-nerd would highly approve of the work of Mark Leyner; and so will fans of Douglas Adams, Will Self, David David Katzman and Hunter S. Thompson, a clever stream-of-consciousness fairytale that's best experienced by passing it quickly from one ear through the other, and letting the burningly unique images seer a tattoo on the back of your psychic retinas.

Out of 10: 9.0, or 10 for fans of bizarro fiction ( )
1 vote jasonpettus | Jul 20, 2012 |
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Ike's ongoing self-narration (which is an echolalic karaoke recitation of what he hears streaming in his head) is similar to - and thought by many experts to derive from - the flowing auto-narrative of the basket-ball dribbling nine-year-old who, at dusk, alone on the family driveway half-court, weaves back and forth, half-hearing and half-murmuring his own play-by-play: "...he's got a lot going on that could potentially distract him...algebra midterm...his mom's calling him to come inside...his asthma inhaler just fell out of his pocket...but somehow he totally shuts all that out of his mind...crowd's going ca-razy!...but the kid's in his own private Idaho...clock's ticking down...badass craves the drama...lives for this shit...Gunslingaaaah...he can hear the automatic garage-door opener...that means his dad's gonna be pulling into the driveway in, like, fifteen seconds...un-fucking-believable that he's about to take this shot under this kind of pressure, with the survival of the species on the line...and look at him out there - dude's ice...is this guy human or what?...his foot's hurting from when he stepped on his retainer in his room last night...but he can play with pain...we've seen that time and time again...he's stoic...a cold-blooded professional...Special Ops...Hitman with the Wristband...hand-eye coordination like a Cyborg Assassin...his mom's calling him to come in and feed the dog and help set the table for dinner...the woman is doing everything she can possibly do to rattle him...but this guy's not like the rest of us...he is un-fucking-flappable...he dribbles between his legs...OK, hold on...he dribbles between his legs...hold on...he dribbles...hold on...he dribbles between his legs (yes!)...fakes right, fakes left, double pump-fakes...there's one second left on the clock...and he launches...an impossibly... long... fadeway... jumpaaah... it's off the rim...but he fights for the offensive rebound like some kind of rabid samurai...etc., etc."
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0316608459, Hardcover)

From the bestselling and wildly imaginative novelist Mark Leyner, a romp through the excesses and exploits of gods and mortals.

High above the bustling streets of Dubai, in the world's tallest and most luxurious skyscraper, reside the gods and goddesses of the modern world. Since they emerged 14 billion years ago from a bus blaring a tune remarkably similar to the Mister Softee jingle, they've wreaked mischief and havoc on mankind. Unable to control their jealousies, the gods have splintered into several factions, led by the immortal enemies XOXO, Shanice, La Felina, Fast-Cooking Ali, and Mogul Magoo. Ike Karton, an unemployed butcher from New Jersey, is their current obsession.

Ritualistically recited by a cast of drug-addled bards, THE SUGAR FROSTED NUTSACK is Ike's epic story. A raucous tale of gods and men confronting lust, ambition, death, and the eternal verities, it is a wildly fun, wickedly fast gambol through the unmapped corridors of the imagination.

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:45:05 -0400)

Modern gods and goddesses wreak havoc on an unemployed butcher from New Jersey.

(summary from another edition)

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