The poet laureate of the MTV generation (Tooth Imprints on a Corn Dog, 1995, etc.) tries to spread his wings wider with his "first 100 percent BONA FIDE NOVEL--story, characters, everything!''
How well he succeeds is a question that depends on where the reader falls on the postmodern scale. Our narrator is 13-year-old Mark Leyner, who has a heavy cloud hanging over him from the start. No, not his imprisoned father's impending execution, which he's about to witness, but an overdue paper (or, rather, screenplay) that he hasn't even started writing. It seems that Mark is in the running for the Vincent and Lenore DiGiacomo/Oshimitsu Polymers America Award, which is bestowed every year at Maplewood Junior High School and provides an annual stipend of $250,000 for life. Naturally, Mark finds it hard to concentrate on his father's impending demise, which is just as well, really, since after receiving three massive lethal injections Mr. Leyner remains perfectly alive and subsequently is resentenced to New Jersey State Discretionary Execution (don't ask) and released on Mark's recognizance. At this point Mark decides to pull an all- nighter to complete the screenplay, although the nymphomaniac female warden distracts him long enough to make him rethink the whole concept, which was never terribly clear in his head to begin with. While Leyner tries to fit his usual wild ramblings ("My mom's buttocks were tattooed with an illustration of an 1,800-pound Red Brindle bull crashing through the front window of a Starbuck's coffee bar and charging a guy who's sitting there sipping a cappuccino and reading M. Scott Peck's The Road Less Traveled'') into something resembling a story, the effect is the same comic collage that made him his name in earlier work--and no one who loved or hated him then will feel much different now.
Classic Leyner insanity, a delight for his fans but unlikely to win any new ones.