Physics, Comedy, And Alternate Realities – Tom Holt’s Doughnut

Previous to this, I had never read any of Tom Holt’s work.  In fact, I don’t know that I had ever heard of Tom Holt.  This makes me sad.  Mainly because he’s got such great titles, such as Snow White and the Seven Samurai, Djinn Rummy, and Grailblazers.

From what I understand, his books are a little odd.

In fact, from reading Doughnut, I think he’s easily comparable to comedy genius Christopher Moore, who writes with a similar recognition of how ridiculous the ongoing story is.  Holt also writes similarly to another sci-fi\humor genius Douglas Adams.  Holt’s British wit pours off of every page.

So the basics of the story are this: Theo Bernstein is a physicist, a very smart one.  So smart, that he works at the Very Very Large Hadron Collider (VVLHC) in Switzerland.  Or he did before a very minor error in calculation caused the entire thing to explode, taking with it his arm, his job, and (collaterally) his wife.

Oh, but his arm is still there.  But invisible.  Why?  Nobody knows!  And Theo, as he’s out on his ass with no money, no job, and no family to fall back on, doesn’t have much time to think about it  He works in a slaughterhouse for several weeks until he receives a letter telling him that’s he has inherited his old college professor’s safe deposit box.

His professor, Pieter van Goyen, must had a really sick sense of humor because the deposit box contained a small empty bottle, a powder compact, and an apple.  Oh and a rather odd note explaining how he had managed to set up a job for Theo and that the bottle might end up somehow killing him.

What a friend!

From there, things go from bad to worse.  Pieter’s letter explains that there’s this guy with a job opening that Theo would be an absolutely dynamite fit for, so Theo reluctantly seeks out this position.  And who could blame the guy? His alternative is trucking cow parts from one side of a hot, smelly factory to another… how bad could it be?

Well…  when he arrives at the hotel, it seems… closed.  Or if not closed, then going through some major renovations.  The hotel’s proprietor, Bill, and the only other staff member, a young woman named Matasuntha, are extremely odd.  In fact, they’re awfully interested in the bottle small bottle in Theo’s possession.

This is where the novel takes a turn for the weird.  On night, after solving on a massively complex formula he discovers at the bottom of the empty bottle, Theo is transported to a new, different world.  Upon arrival, sky-writing informs Theo that he now resides in a “hand-held portable pocket universe” known as YouSpace.

That’s where I’m going to leave the plot.  Suffice it to say, it gets weirder.  Theo soon joins in on a hunt through YouSpace (multiple YouSpaces, technically) searching for answers to why the VVLHC exploded, what happened to his arm, and where his brother disappeared to all those years ago…

Holt is exceptionally clever in the plotting of a story that becomes increasingly complex as Theo begins traveling into further and further dimensions and it all works.  Or seems to…  I was an English major, not a scientist.

And the humor!  There’s a lot of dry dialogue, of course, but much of the humor comes from the narration.  My favorite gem comes about when Theo is on the precipice of learning a crucial bit of information.  Holt writes, “He had to ask, but he already knew, with the resigned foreboding of an infant at the font who knows that his three elder brothers are called John, Paul, and George, what the answer would be.”

The best recommendation of this novel I can make is that it reminds me intimately of many Kurt Vonnegut novels that I loved greatly in college.  The humor, the complex mixture of literary and sci-fi moments…  Just a great novel from start to finish.  Check it out if you’re on the hunt for a sci-fi novel with a heart and more than a dash of humor.

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Life In Progress – A Brilliant Novel In The Works by Yuvi Zalkow

How do I keep finding these weird novels?  Furthermore, how do I keep ending up reading these novels about writing novels?

Regardless of how I ended up here… here I am.  Another meta-fictional book about an author writing a book.  Did I know that’s what this book was about?  Of course not! I just liked the cover.  And I judged it thusly: That looks like the kind of book I’d read.

And is it?  Well, I think so… I mean, I read it, didn’t I?

Bah, whatever… in we go!

A Brilliant Novel In The Works
Yuvi Zalkow
286 Pages
M P Publishing Limited
August 14, 2012

First chapter, eighth line: the main character’s first name is Yuvi.

Oh.  So super-meta-fictional.  The author and the main character share a name.  OK, I can deal! I can persevere!  And I’m glad I did.  This book is funny.

And not just funny, but laugh-out-loud hilarious.  Much in the way that TV shows like Curb Your Enthusiasm straddle that line between uncomfortable and hysterically funny, A Brilliant Novel In The Works puts Yuvi in these absurd situations that would suck to be a part of… but are awfully fun to peek in on.

For instance, Yuvi suspects his wife, Julie, of having an affair.  Instead of confronting her about it in a mature, adult way… he instead stoops to snooping through her purse when he thinks she’s not looking.  Of course, she catches him and… well, I won’t spoil the fun.  Regardless, a funny scene made funnier by Yuvi’s complete inability to deal with a situation head-on.

The crux of the novel, however, aren’t these painfully awkward situations.  Instead, most of the novel’s plot comes from Yuvi attempting to finish his novel.  And the novel’s progress (within the novel) keeps up with the novel’s actual progression in a trippy-but-fun way.

The book also has a deviation chapter following almost every numbered chapter.  For instance, Chapter 11 is titled “Alcohol and Steroids” which comes from the line within the chapter, “‘He can’t beat this thing with just alcohol and steroids!'”

But the follow-up chapter is entitled “How I Killed Her Mother” which gives some backstory on Julia’s mother, as well as details about her mother’s death (from, what else, alcohol).  In most instances, there are correlations between the main chapter and the follow-ups that add very interesting layers to the novel.

Yuvi is a lot of fun as a narrator.  He’s neurotic, emotionally-stunted, and exceptionally sexually depraved.  All in all… my kind of character!

There’s also some elements of magical realism near the end of the novel, which reminded me somewhat of Adam Levin’s much longer book The Instructions.  Just a small bit of the fantastical, but it really made for a more emotionally impactive ending.

I don’t have much more to say about the novel.  I put it down for about a week while I was burying myself in comic books… so, sorry about that Yuvi.  But I did finish it and really enjoyed it.

If I’ve piqued your interest, you can also check out Yuvi Zalkow’s website which has a lovely mix of writing, video, and awkwardness.  What more do you want from a website?

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Bites of Bits – Rare John Fante Pieces

Some time ago, a random person in an AOL Chat Room (yes, it was quite some time ago… about 2000, 2001) suggested I read a small book titled Ask The Dust by the author John Fante.

It was, simply put, a revelation.

Suddenly, reading wasn’t just a way I spent time, getting lost inside macabre worlds of serial killers, or the fast-paced land of government spies… instead, reading became a doorway into the soul.

This seems a bit silly to me now.  I’m trying to imagine myself at 17.  I had always enjoyed poetry… reading it, writing it…  All that.

Poetry held the mysteries to love (Sonnet 130, John Donne, ), pain (Paul Laurence Dunbar’s “Ione”), and the bleak emptiness I felt as a teenager (TS Eliot, AE Housman, and Sylvia Plath).

Oh and most mysterious of all: how some people were able to get published (Jewel).

But if I were to pick up a novel, I’d be more likely to read a Dean Koontz book than anything else.  I recall taking solace in the overwrought plotting and white knight heroes… not to mention the cathartic release of reading about truly evil villains torturing their victims…

Yeah, I was a messed up kid.

But John Fante broke me out of that.  I still distinctly remember trying to read a new Dean Koontz book and finding it lacking.  After all, wasn’t it almost the exact plot as a book he wrote in the 80s?  Yes, it was very similar… too similar.

If you haven’t read John Fante and you’ve got a taste for straight-forward, first person narratives… look no further.  If you’ve ever read and been a fan of Charles Bukowski, Jack Kerouac, Sherwood Anderson, or Knut Hamsun… read him.  Now.  Start with Ask the Dust.  Then, Dreams From Bunker Hill.  Finally, read Brotherhood of the Grape and Fante’s letters.

From there, you’re on your own.  His other books are decent, but mostly hit-or-miss.  Full of Life is great if you read it while waiting for your wife to give birth.  Otherwise, it smacks of schmaltz.  Still probably worth a read at least once, especially if you’re really wanting more.

Incidentally, despite the quote that ran on the original hardcover of Brotherhood of the Grape, the main character is not, “as zesty as Zorba, as ruthless in his ways as Don Corleone” because… well, there’s nothing of either Zorba, or Don Corleone in the novel… Damn marketers.

Anyhow, I’m making this post to share some less common John Fante pieces.  Stuff that’s not collected in any of the available books.  For instance, Fante wrote a small series of columns titles “Swords and Roses” for a local newspaper when he was living with his family in Roseville… and here they are!  Big props to the library in Roseville for sending me copies (and they also have true first editions of both of Fante’s early novels, Wait Until Spring, Bandini and Ask the Dust).

Also included below are three pieces Fante wrote later in life for the Los Angeles Times.

A Space Ship Off Malibu

Smog Defended

Goodbye Bunker Hill

These are easy enough to obtain through the normal channels (like the Roseville Public Library, or the LA Times website), I just wanted to put these here so can find them when I need them, and to give you fine people a nice introduction to John Fante.

And seriously catch me sometime and I’ll talk your ear off about how fantastic John Fante really is.

And extra-seriously… read John Fante!

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A Twenty-First Century Holden Caulfield – Dora: A Headcase

I’m going to preface this by saying that I have an absolute minimum of knowledge in regards to Freudian psychology.  Similarly, all I know about Freud’s own “Dora” case is the very, very brief piece that Wikipedia has on it.

That said, there’s plenty to be enjoyed in Lidia Yuknavitch’s latest novel Dora: A Headcase even without knowledge of the subtle (and not so subtle) Freudian slips. In fact, I’m going to come right out and say it… best book I’ve read all year!  Big apologies to Alif The Unseen, A Hologram For The Kingand Redshirts!

Dora: A Headcase
Lidia Yuknavitch
Hawthorne Books & Literary Arts
234 Pages
August 7, 2012

I’ll be honest… a lot of what drew me to this book was the introduction by Chuck Palahniuk.  Though I haven’t enjoyed every book of his, I’ve found his writing to be consistently interesting even if I can’t get into the plots themselves.  Plus Fight Club and Survivor were a blast!

But I actually haven’t read it yet, even though I’ve finished the novel.  I skipped it because introductions are excellent ways to spoil a novel’s plot.  For instance, I know everything about Anna Karenina and War & Peace thanks to overzealous introductions.

I feel a bit disingenuous playing the Holden Caulfield card in the title.  It almost feels too easy. And it also seems a bit unfair to Yuknavitch to compare her creation to Holden Caulfield, mostly because Ida is only similar in how both novels resonate with me.

I simultaneously love and loathe Holden (and by extension Catcher In The Rye), and I feel the same about Ida in Dora.  The book is very well written, with an electric wit and an  originality of voice that I haven’t felt since I read Broken Glass Park a couple of years ago.  And the main character, Ida\Dora, is endearing… to a point.

For the first few chapters, I wanted to choke Ida with a spoon.  I think a lot of it comes from seeing too much of teen-aged myself in the character (which is why Holden irritates me so much too).

But I’m getting ahead of myself.

Dora tells the story of Ida, a 17-year old filmmaker living in Seattle who is on the receiving end of some truly questionable therapy (the name of her therapist, of course, is Sigmund Freud).  Like his namesake “Siggy” (as Ida refers to him) sees dicks everywhere.  Everything is sexual in some manner, or another.

While dealing with an overbearing therapist, Ida also has to endure her father’s affair (with a woman she finds strangely attractive), her very eclectic friends (general hoodlums constantly in pursuit of art… or at least “art”), and a constantly unpredictable mind which seems to want to rebel against anything life throws at her.

Ida’s “posse” includes Ave Maria (a rich teen getting high and drunk on her parents’ dime), Little Teena (a cross-dresser who is also a trained concert pianist), and Obsidian (a Native American who has gone off reservation after being attacked and raped by her step-dad).

Oh and another of Ida’s best friends is another pre-op transsexual named Marlene (formerly Hakizamana Ojo of Rwanda) who gives Ida explicit sex books written in foreign languages.  Marlene is by far my favorite character in the book.

Through the first few chapters Ida is somewhat insufferable, what with her constant need to rebel against everything (coughing over her father’s attempts to communicate seriously with her, flashing her bits to her therapist, drunkenly stripping naked in a Nordstrom’s), but eventually… she starts to become endearing.  Her love and respect for her friends shines through and what once was annoying comes across as oddly refreshing.

There’s a certain point in the novel when tragedy strikes Ida and she transitions from an angry, angsty teenager, to a near-adult enduring a great deal of suffering and sorrow… deep-laid pain that is only beginning to bubble to the surface.

This sadness and pain transitions to the second half of the novel, whereupon we learn that Ida has lost the ability to speak.  I can’t get into much plot after this without delving too deeply into spoilers, but there’s a Viagra overdose, emergency surgery, pushy and violent reality TV producers, and a massive breakout from a juvie detention facility.

The only real flaw in the second half of the novel is the epilogue.  It takes a strong, emotional ending… and ties up all the loose ends in a very frustrating way.  In fact, I’m going to tell you right now just to skip it.

You know those movies that end with a song and a text box for each member of the cast, telling what happened after the movie’s story ends?  That’s this epilogue.  The whole thing is clunky, unnecessary, and rather annoying.

But definitely, definitely read this book.  Lidia Yuknavitch is now one of my favorite authors and I can’t wait to recommend her at every opportunity at work.

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Numbers, Letters, Names – Brian K Vaughan’s Y: The Last Man

Y: The Last Man was Brian K Vaughan’s first really successful comic.  About six months after the first issue of Y hit shelves, he followed it up with the excellent Marvel teen-superhero tale Runaways, and about another six months after that, Vaughan introduced us to the Mayor of New York, who could somehow communicate with machinery, in Ex Machina.

I’ve made no secret that Brian K Vaughan is one of my favorite comic creators.  His early Marvel stuff on titles like The Hood and Ultimate X-Men is good.  Vaughan’s DC work, on a couple of Batman titles and a small run on Wonder Woman is also good.  Even his 20-issue run on Swamp Thing is serviceable (though harmed by an early cancellation).  But Vaughan always (ALWAYS!) works better with his own characters.

Y: The Last Man wasn’t just his first success, it was also his first completely new, creator-owned series and it. Is. AWESOME.  Why?  Well, let’s discuss!

And as always: this post may contain SPOILERS.  I’ll try to steer clear of them, but this book is particularly difficult to talk about without delving at least somewhat into the deep end of the spoiler pool.

Be warned of that if you haven’t read (or finished) the series.

Y: The Last Man
Co-created by Brian K Vaughan (writer) and Pia Guerra (art)
Scripts by Brian K Vaughan
Pencils by Pia Guerra (various), Goran Sudzuka (various), and Paul Chadwick (various)
Inks by Jose Maran Jr.
Colors by Pamela Lambo (various) and Zylonol (various)
Letters by Clem Robbins
Covers by JG Jones and Massimo Carnevale
Editor: Will Dennis
Published In Single Magazine Form by Vertigo Comics\DC Comics From Sept 2002 Through March 2008
A Whole Lot Of Pages

I’d like to just take a moment in case I missed anyone in the credits up there… A whole mess of people worked to make what it is and… it shows.  Great art teams, great lettering… and the writing ain’t bad either!

The story focuses on the travels of one Yorick Brown, as he crosses a post-apocalyptic America… the last man on earth.  A global plague has wiped out any mammal with a Y chromosome (including any sperm, or fertilized ovum) and Yorick is crossing the country with a special agent code-named 355, and an expert geneticist named Allison Mann.  Oh and Yorick’s helper monkey named Ampersand, the only other male mammal to survive the death of the Y chromosome.

The characters have many motivations.  Yorick’s main goal is to find his girlfriend (slash maybe-fiance), Beth, in Australia, but has been tasked by the surviving remnants of the US government to go with Dr Mann to her lab in San Francisco so she can figure out why he has survived.  Agent 355 is their bodyguard and escort… and is a complete bad-ass, and my second-favorite comic book character (after, naturally, Morpheus from Sandman).

Brian K Vaughan does a really good job with dialogue.  While I don’t believe people of the world are as clever, verbose, and intelligent as he portrays them to be… he still writes his characters realistically, and even if one were presented with a speech-balloon without any other context… it wouldn’t be hard to identify the speaker.

Plotting and pacing is also a strong suit of Vaughan’s.  Foreshadowing is rampant throughout the series, and Vaughan really works at showing Yorick’s development from a selfish, Beth-obsessed slacker into a contemplative, intelligent young man.

Of particular interest is the cause to the plague: no single, definitive answer is ever provided in the comic.  It could be the genetic cloning that Dr Mann’s father was involved in.  It could have been a mysterious amulet that was removed from Jordan by Agent 355.  Maybe it was a disease set-off in China by American agents, in an attempt to cripple the Chinese economy.  But none is presented in a way that gives any more credence to one over the other.

And this is endlessly frustrating.  The book has a distinctive sci-fi bent (especially given the plague at the crux of the plot), but everything else about it is much more grounded (unlike some of Vaughan’s other series, such as Ex Machina and Saga), so none of the answers are particularly satisfying.

Still, Vaughan has stated in an interview that the answer is given within the story, but that it isn’t explicitly stated (and apparently won’t be by anyone involved on the creative team).  He also hinted that it could be a background image, or something from Issue 3, no doubt sending large groups of mad readers, such as myself, scrambling to scan every panel in exquisite detail.

If you’ve never read a comic book… you would be hard pressed to find a better starting point that Y: The Last Man.  Relentless action, emotionally evolving characters, mystery, suspense, and great art to boot… This series is what got me into the Vertigo line of comics (followed closely by Sandman and Swamp Thing).

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Madness and Metafiction – Grant Morrison and the Superhero

God, another post about metafiction?

Well, the best I can say is that this one is about a comic book, so hopefully the sequential art will distract you long enough for me to make my great escape!

Right up front, I’m going to say it… Grant Morrison is probably the smartest guy writing comic books.  Many of his books have a lot going on beneath the surface, and I’m fairly certain I don’t understand half of what’s going on.

For instance, Morrison’s Doom Patrol run has some of the strangest villains in all of comicdom…  Bad guys with names like The Brotherhood of Dada (a group who superpowered anarchists fighting against reality itself) and The Scissormen (a group of villains who literally cut people out of reality… like clipping a coupon!).

Much of the series devolves into maddening trysts of philosophy, morality, and madness.  Luckily, Cliff “Robotman” Steele (yes, Steele… he was created in the 60s, okay? Subtlety wasn’t exactly the cornerstone of comic writing then…   It is the same era that brought us Matter-Eater Lad, let’s just leave it alone) is there to make us feel less stupid.  Cliff will often voice his confusion, letting us know that we aren’t the only ones not making all the connections.

But before Doom Patrol, before Morrison’s fantastic Arkham Asylum, before his seemingly Reich-like 1000 Year run on Batman, Grant Morrison wrote Animal Man.

Animal Man, as a character, doesn’t really have the best history.  Created in the sixties, he was never part of the top-tier of superheroes.  In fact, he wasn’t really ever a part of any tier.  Outside of a few brief, sporadic appearances, Buddy Baker seemed to be headed for the dustbin of comics history, next to Prez Rickard and Brother Power The Geek.

And along came Grant Morrison.

After impressing with work in 2000 AD, a weekly comic which has featured other major British comic writers like Alan Moore and Neil Gaiman,  Morrison presented a re-imagining of the to DC Comics who approved a 4-issue miniseries.  When the series took off, DC gave Morrison free rein to do whatever he wanted and… boy does he.

But the book begins relatively simply.  Buddy Baker, A.K.A. Animal Man, has been called to investigate a break-in at a laboratory.  What follows is standard superhero fare.  Animal Man fights and wins… all while attempting to balance his home life with wife and children.

But…

Sweet tapdancing Christ, I still have trouble believing this issue exists in the world… it is so weird, even for Grant Morrison that I almost hesitate to talk about it… except that I love it too damn much to gloss over it.

The fifth issue, entitled “Coyote Gospel” is where shit starts to get weird.  I’ve used issue 5 to introduce people in the series (and I like it so much that I own a copy of the single issue for that exact reason).  In this issue… well, there’s a coyote who walks on two legs and a trucker is constantly trying to kill him.

The trucker runs him over with his truck, shoots him, and even throws him off a cliff and drops a giant boulder on him (sound familiar yet? meep meep!).  Near the end, Animal Man comes across the broken body of the coyote and the coyote delivers a scroll to Animal Man.

The scroll tells the story (in a wonderful, Saturday Morning Cartoon sort of style) of a world where the beasts fight amongst each other, but cannot die.  Until one day, the coyote takes an elevator to heaven and demands the Creator stop the madness and end the suffering of the creatures.

The Creator agrees… but only if the coyote will take the suffering all upon himself (and seriously, what kind of dick move is that?).  The coyote agrees and is banished to our world… erm, well the DC Comics world… which is like our world, but has Batman.  And Superman.

Animal Man stares at the scroll… is it with intense thought?  No, no.  Dear reader, that would be too kind to the poor coyote.  Instead, Animal Man is confused.  He tells the coyote that he can’t read it and… to add insult to injury (well, insult to DEATH in this case) the coyote is shot and killed by the trucker… this time with a silver bullet, to guarantee that the creature is dead.

Th-th-th-that’s all folks!

And that’s only the start of it all for Animal Man.  Over the next twenty-one issues, Buddy Baker will meet (among others) aliens who “reboot” his powers and watches, confused, as the same aliens literally dissolve a villain (in a really awesome sequence where the villain goes from fully inked and colored, to inked, to pencils, to roughs, to a blank panel… ONLY IN COMICS!), an old Flash villain named The Mirror Master, a bizarre failed villain named The Red Mask, and an equally bizarre old villain known as the Psycho Pirate.

Oh… and Animal Man also comes face to face with both the reader (quite literally), and with Grant Morrison himself in the final issue.

And for the most part… the work holds up.  Animal Man is used as a sort of conduit for a lot of the thoughts and ideas that Morrison was dealing with at the time (such as Morrison’s conversion to vegetarianism), and the comics, though designed as mostly typical superhero fare, are incredibly thought-provoking, and a lot less dense than some of Morrison’s work from the same era (especially Doom Patrol).

Since his successful runs on Animal Man and Doom Patrol, Morrison has gone on to do great work with DC Comics.  His superhero stuff (JLA, Batman) is fantastic, as his non-superhero work for Vertigo (We3, Joe The Barbarian), and he doesn’t show any sign of stopping.

If you’re interested in checking out more of his work… I’d suggest All Star Superman (which is 12 issues of pure, unadulterated bliss), or his recent run on the New 52 version of Action Comics.  And if you really want to give yourself a mindfuck, check out the newly reissued trade of Flex Mentallo: Man of Muscle Mystery.  You won’t know what hit you.

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.