Right now, I am a pathetic and very confused young man, a failed writer at 28 who is so jealous, so sickly searingly envious of you and [William] Vollmann and Mark Leyner and even David fuckwad Leavitt and any young man who is right now producing pages with which he can live, and even approving them off some base clause of conviction about the enterprise's meaning and end.
How could someone as brilliant as DFW be jealous of someone like Mark Leyner? Don't get me wrong; when I was a teenager, after I'd burned through all of Vonnegut's books, I read and enjoyed the druggy speed-freak vibe of Leyner's Et Tu Babe, I Smell Esther Williams, and My Cousin, My Gastroenterologist. But they don't hold up well at all; they're books that are so terribly of-the-moment that they became, basically, unreadable after a year or two on the shelf. Compared to Infinite Jest, or DFW's short fiction, they simply dry up and blow away. It's no contest. Hell, it doesn't even feel like the same sport.
Some fourteen years after his not-very-good novel The Tetherballs of Bougainville, Leyner has finally published another novel. It's titled The Sugar Frosted Nutsack, it's now out in paperback, and it's better than its title would indicate. Part of the appeal of Nutsack is that Leyner has finally dropped his first-person narcissism routine, which felt very 1980s even when he was doing it in the 1990s. Nutsack opens with a creation myth involving an gods with names like Yagyu who come to create the modern media culture (Yagyu's big idea, by the way, was "Woman's Ass"). Nutsack reads like a holy book, if your religion is Oxycontin. The book is plagued with a troll called XOXO who wants to undo the telling of Nutsack even as it's being told. The main character is a man named Ike Karton. A bunch of stuff happens to him. Some of it even makes sense.
Nutsack isn't revelatory, but it is entertaining, in a kind of light, faux-intellectual, experimental fiction way. I'm sure this is a book that will blow some 18-year-old minds out there, and that's exactly as it should be. If you're in the mood for fiction you really want to chew on, there's always David Foster Wallace. But if you want dessert, The Sugar Frosted Nutsack is waiting for you. It's probably only got a shelf-life of a couple years, so if you're looking for an unhealthy diversion and a few sugar highs, you really should dig in now.