Audiobook Review: The Sugar Frosted Nutsack by Mark Leyner

29 03 2012

The Sugar Frosted Nutsack by Mark Leyner

Read by Mark Leyner

Hachette Audio

Length: 7 Hrs 46 Min

Genre: Absurdist Fantasy

Quick Thoughts: The Sugar Frosted Nutsack is the gaper delay of the literary world, you don’t want to look, but you just can’t help it.. I really can’t say whether Mark Leyner is a brilliant writer who is far beyond my literary capacity, or is just screwing with everybody, laughing and pointing his finger saying, “Yeah, I just wrote a bunch of crap, wrapped it in a bow, and now you all are calling it brilliant.” I’m not sure this is a novel I can really recommend, but I know there are some twisted souls out there who would totally love this, and in the end, I may have just enough of that twistedness to have enjoyed the experience.

Grade: B-ish

Ike Karton, the human figure that The Sugar Frosted Nutsack centers on likes to make lists. So, I too am going to make a list. Today’s list, Five Things I Rather Do Than Listen to The Sugar Frosted Nutsack Again, aka Self Flagellation Rules All. So, here are my five things.

1. Watch an endless loop of bad Karaoke versions of The Pet Shop Boys “Always on my Mind” on Youtube until my eyes bleed.
2. Spend the day Lingerie shopping with my sister.
3. Listen to Highlights of The Rush Limbaugh show set to Techno Music, but not including the infamous “slut” comment.
4. Read The Sugar Frosted Nutsack 2: Crème de la Sack.
5. Scream “IkeIkeIkeIkeIkeIkeIkeIke” while listening to Narcocorridos sung by fictitious bands.
6. Ummmm… Ahhhhh…..

I have to admit, I chose to listen to Mark Leyner’s Absurdist Fantasy novel based on the publisher description and the fact that the title of the novel contained the work Nutsack. Despite my age, I am still a juvenile man who laughs at scatological humor. Also, I was hoping to increase my stats by cornering the market on those who Google the term “listen to my nutsack.” Which, I think there is probably more than you think. I’ve been trying to expand my listening experience by choosing titles I probably would have avoided in print. So, I never investigated exactly who Leyner was besides the fact that he tends to write novels that have eye-catchingly strange names. I’m sort of glad I didn’t because I am not sure I would ever have taken the leap and experienced one of the strangest, mind numbing, I’m-so-clever-and-am-laughing-at-those-who-pretend-to-get-this-novel listening experiences of my life.

So, what is The Sugar Frosted Nutsack About? Well, I’ll tell you. TSFN is about Ike Karton, who after suffering a head injury from being hit by a Mr. Softee Truck, and attempting to use his misfortunate to set off a race war, becomes the avatar of a band of strange gods, and is fated to be killed by Mossad Snipers. Of course, it’s not really about that, in fact it’s about the interplay and interference of a band of gods who live in the tallest building in the world who squabble over who has power over what aspect, and enjoy fucking humans as they fuck with humans. But, in fact the story is really about a Millennium old avant-garde presentation of The Sugar Frosted Nutsack performed in classic oral tradition by an endless series of drug addled blind bards. In fact, in reality The Sugar Frosted Nutsack is about none of these things, instead it’s the story of a god named XOXO, the god of dementia, concussions and alcoholic blackouts who is trying to screw with the epic of The Sugar Frosted Nutsack to make it so unbelievable that is will be trivialized. The Sugar Frosted Nutsack is an absurdist car wreck of a novel. It is nonsensical, asinine, and totally incomprehensible at times. Yet, there is an almost hyperkinetic lure to the novel. I was tempted to stop listening plenty of times, but something kept me going.  Maybe that part of my nature that just bristles off the subconscious which makes me ashamed to admit, I actually sort of like watching car wrecks. I actually find things that are nonsensical, asinine and seemingly incomprehensible, to be fascinating. TSFN is the gaper delay of the literary world, you don’t want to look, but you just can’t help it. By then end of the novel, my brain hurt. It was like when I listened to Stand on Zanzibar, but without that “click” when it all came together. Surprisingly, I found myself laughing, chanting along, fearing being kidnapped to some hyperborean hermitage and having my brain fucked with. I think, in the end, I sort of liked the experience. I really can’t say whether Mark Leyner is a brilliant writer who is far beyond my literary capacity, or is just fucking with everybody, laughing and pointing his finger saying, “Yeah, I just wrote a bunch of crap, wrapped it in a bow, and now you all are calling it brilliant.” In fact, any true criticism I can make, that it contains too much sex, that it’s overly repetitive and full of dick and fart jokes, Leyner already makes in the text of this novel. All I can really say is, after writing this novel Leyner will never have to take another drug test. It should just be assumed he failed it.

The Sugar Frosted Nutsack is read by the author. Although Leyner is definitely not a professional voice artist, his reading is solid and clear, and his voice is relatively pleasant. He has some weird enunciation issues, turning up the ends of his sentences giving them an almost questioning feel. It’s almost like at times his asking, “Did I really write this shit?” There were times where his voice took on a “I’m cleverer than you” tone of pretentiousness that made me want to punch him in the face but I think this was an effect he wanted, and to be honest, the whole novel had a punchtheauthorinhisfaceish tone to it. His reading did achieve some laugh out loud moments, and there is some impressive parts of the novel where the reading was quite tricky, yet Leyner managed to keep me interested. The novel is full of linguistically visual jokes, that probably paid off better in the print version as well as some strange annoying moments that could be skimmed over in print, but with audio, you’re stuck with. I’m sure that a professional narrator could have had some fun with this novel and maybe add something to it, yet, having the author read the words that he is tormenting us with seemed somehow appropriate. I’m not sure this is a novel I can really recommend, but I know there are some twisted souls out there who would totally love this, and in the end, I may have just enough of that twistedness to have enjoyed the experience.

Note: Thanks to the good people of Hachette Audio for providing me with a copy of this title for review.

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One response

31 03 2012
DevourerofBooks (@DevourerofBooks)

This sounds like something that should have had an entry in next year’s Tournament of Books, but I don’t think it is for me.

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