Feature

Novel of the week: The Sugar Frosted Nutsack by Mark Leyner

Leyner’s first novel in 15 years is a “wondrously imaginative and maddeningly unreadable” thing.

Mark Leyner’s first novel in 15 years is a “wondrously imaginative and maddeningly unreadable” thing, said Ian Crouch in The Boston Globe. Begin with its silly plot. Ike, a New Jersey butcher and an idiot, sits on his stoop, visits a diner, and is eventually shot and killed. From afar, he’s being manipulated by a pantheon of absurd gods who live in Dubai in the world’s tallest skyscraper. For 250 pages, Ike’s story is retold in different narrative modes—tabloid headlines, instant-message conversations, webpage-style readers’ comments. Yet Leyner’s achievement is to have reproduced the noise of the Internet between two book covers, said Theo Schell-Lambert in the San Francisco Chronicle. Every sentence in the earliest pages is subject to misquotation or misuse by the voices we hear later. Can greatness be achieved in a book that “makes every effort” to be an awful read? It depends. We have always asked that novels be “seismographs of the times.” If that’s so, Leyner has delivered the very definition.

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