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The Sugar Frosted Nutsack

by Mark Leyner

About.com Rating 3.5 Star Rating


The Sugar Frosted Nutsack by Mark Leyner
© Little, Brown & Company
Mark Leyner is back! And he's brought with him a whole pantheon of narcissistic, manipulative, petulant, and supermercurial gods, all of whom take up residence at the top of the world's tallest skyscraper – currently the Burj Khalifa in the Business Bay district of Dubai, United Arab Emirates. Adolescent in their whims and obsessions and irrepressibly mischievous when it comes to the affairs of humans, these gods have taken a particular interest in Ike Karton, a 48-year-old, 5'7" unemployed butcher living in Jersey City, New Jersey.

The Sugar Frosted Nutsack is exactly the sort of next novel you might expect from Mark Leyner, in that Mark Leyner's indescribable, hyper-experimental, postmodern fiction generally defies the notion of expectation, except that you know it's going to indescribably hyper-experimental. Oh, and in my experience, it's likely to be hilarious as well.

The Sugar Frosted Nutsack, known alternately as both Ike's Agony and T.G.I.F. (for reasons unprintable here), and subtitled, "Ike Always Keeps It Simple and Sexy," is the infinitely recursive and punishingly repetitive ("the phrase 'punishingly repetitive' is used 251 times in The Sugar Frosted Nutsack"), epic story of Ike Karton, an epic that's been recited in public for thousands of years by blind, itinerant, drug-addled, orange soda-swilling bards.

What makes The Sugar Frosted Nutsack so infinitely recursive and punishingly repetitive is that the epic itself , the book that you soon will be holding in your hands, is not merely the epic story of Ike Karton, whose fate is inextricably tied to the whims of the gods, but it is that very epic couched in an impressively digressive exegesis including mystical numerological correlations, commentary and supporting ballad from TSFN audience members, and in-depth analysis of Ike and other supporting characters, all delivered with Mark Leyner's inimitably manic and scatological stream-of-consciousness.
Leyner's novel is a potpourri of elements both epic and postmodern, a swirling storm of language both high-brow and low-brow, a potpourri of pop culture shot through with a ridiculous and hilarious pantheon of gods that toys with the story's hero in the tradition of Greek gods toying with Odysseus. Among these deities are:

El Burbuja, the God of BubblesA stubby, pockmarked, severely astigmatic deity – originally just ruled over the realm of inflated globules. At first, everyone assumed he'd be satisfied as a kind of geeky "party God" whose dominion would be limited to basically balloons and champagne. And no one paid much attention when he published an almost impenetrably technical paper in some obscure peer-reviewed journal in which he claimed sovereignty over Anything Enveloping Something Else.

Yagyu A God who was also known as Dark Cuervo ("Dark Raven") and Fast-Cooking-Ali – created "Woman's Ass," which was considered his masterpiece. Nothing he'd done before prepared the other Gods for the stunning, unprecedented triumph that was "Woman's Ass." His previous accomplishments had been deliberately banal. He'd created the Platitude, for instance.

La Felina, the Goddess of Humility - La Felina would, over the course of time, have many relationships with mortal men. She has a heavy sexual thing for Hasidic and Amish guys, as well as anarcho-primitivists, including Theodore Kaczynski (the Unabomber). Sometimes she wears a Japanese schoolgirl sailor outfit. La Felina hates the rich and she hates celebrities. (She has recently tried to induce a deranged person to stalk and kill the designer Marc Jacobs.)
Of all the Gods and Goddesses, it is La Felina who takes particular interest in Ike, hero of the proletariat, "a man standing on his stoop, on the prow of his hermiatage, striking that contrapposto pose, in his white wifebeater, his torso totally ripped, his lustrous chestnut armpit hair wafting in the breeze, his head turned and inclined up toward the top floors of the Burj Khalifa in Dubai, from which the gaze of masturbating goddesses casts him in a sugar frosted nimbus."

Clearly, The Sugar Frosted Nutsack is not for everyone. Drenched as it is in sex, it is certainly not for the reader deterred by the aforementioned "masturbating goddesses," nor is it for the conservative reader who likes their literature on the straight and narrow. The Sugar Frosted Nutsack is a roller coaster designed for the bawdiest, most thrill-seeking and experimental of readers. It's a niche audience, but one that will gratefully receive Mark Leyner's offering.
Disclosure: A review copy was provided by the publisher. For more information, please see our Ethics Policy.

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