Gods, Mister Softee, and Me – The Sugar Frosted Nutsack

The book I’ve just finished is difficult to describe.  Partly because of how it is written.  But partly also because of the title.  The full title is The Sugar Frosted Nustack.  I’ll give you a minute to take that in.

OK, still with me? Great!  Let’s dive right in!

The Sugar Frosted Nutsack
Mark Leyner
247 Pages
Little Brown & Co
March 2012

This book is, as I mentioned, difficult to describe.  For instance, the plot.  The prologue chapter, which goes for nearly forty pages, tells us that, “There was never nothing.”  After that, you get a weird, slightly convoluted story about how this particular pantheon of gods came to be, after a particularly gnarly Spring Break.

After a rather draining vacation, the gods all come back to the void and start to give it meaning.  There are many gods with many names.  XOXO, La Felina, Fast-Cooking Ali, Mogul Magoo, and Shanice, among about a half-dozen others.  In this section, we learn that the gods always live at the top of the highest man-made structure they can find (and have lived in the Sears Tower in the past, but currently reside in Dubai in a tower named Burj Khalifa.  

This section is mostly straightforward, if not a little weird (for instance, one of the gods grows his human girlfriend fifty feet tall and uses the cryogenically frozen head of Ted Williams as an anal sex today), but compared to the rest of the book, this section reads like Hop on Pop.

After we finish the prologue, The Sugar Frosted Nutsack begins in earnest.  We meet the closest thing we’ll get to a main character rather quickly.  The character?  A man named Ike Karton, whom is beloved by the gods (well, most of them) and is an unemployed butcher living in New Jersey.  Odysseus, he ain’t, but I can’t say there aren’t some strange comparisons.

But the real protagonist of the book is… well, the book.  Within the confines of the novel, there is a book, also conveniently entitled The Sugar Frosted Nutsack (or, variably The Sugar Frosted Nutsack 2: Creme de la Sack, or simply T.S.F.N.) and that book is the real star attraction.  Most of the narration is written like someone who has written an essay on The Sugar Frosted Nutsack (the fictional one, not the novel) and much of the “story” is given away in the first chapter:

Ike is an unemployed butcher, living in New Jersey with his wife and daughter.  He will go to a diner and eat a tongue sandwich.  He’ll neglect to mention a certain goddess on his top 10 T.G.I.F. (Ten Goddesses I’d Fuck) list and she will put a Mossad hit squad out on him, which will be our climax.  Or it would be if the book didn’t keep reminding us of it.

One thing to note is that the book is incredibly repetitive and recursive.  There are entire sections that are repeated ad nauseum throughout.  Some funny (for instance, “like Mothra’s fairies, except for their wasted pallors, acne, big tits, and T-shirts that read ‘I Don’t Do White Guys'” shows up often and is funny), and others that are a trying exercise to read… and re-read… and re-read.

But!  Wait just one second!  According to the narrator, The Sugar Frosted Nutsack is full of, “excruciating redundancies, heavy-handed, stilted tropes, and wearying clichés,” yes, but this is the fault of the god XOXO, who is attempting to derail the epic by making it overly repetitious.  Or overly absurd.  Or overly perverse.  Basically, all the issues one would have reading the novel are the fault of a god who keeps messing with the creation.

There’s a lot more to this book (I think) that I could go on and on for days about.  There’s some screamingly funny parts (for instance, Dick Van Dyke’s name before he got into showbiz, or the sections describing the blind monks who chant the entire epic of The Sugar Frosted Nutsack to sold-out crowds), but there’s a lot of weird parts that seem… well they appear to only be there to be weird.

The closest literary cousin I can think of to The Sugar Frosted Nutsack is House of Leaves by Mark Danielewski.  House of Leaves is, at least on the surface, a novel about a guy named Johnny Truant.  But beyond that, it is a novel about a man named Johnny who finds a book entitled House of Leaves in a bunch of things left behind by an old man.  This book describes a film (that doesn’t seem to exist) called The Five and a Half Minute Hallway.  So, in essence, a book about a book about a movie that doesn’t exist.  Lots of layers there.

So is The Sugar Frosted Nutsack a worthwhile venture?  Well… I really enjoyed a lot of it.  There’s a good amount of criticism of celebrities and reality TV stars and there are an awful lot of really, really funny parts… but… the book is a mess.  I’m sure some people would really, really like it (and I wanted to!), but in the end… I doubt I’ll be talking about this book in a couple of weeks.

However… according to the book, anything written about The Sugar Frosted Nutsack automatically becomes a part of it, so… maybe some day my words will be spliced in with the epic of Ike Karton.

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