Things have been positively normal around here for a while; it must be time for another dose of Leyner (The Sugar Frosted Nutsack, 2012, etc.).
“Before I start, I’d like to say: Fuck everyone who said I was too paradoxical a hybrid of arrogant narcissism and vulnerable naïveté to succeed in life (even though they were right)” writes Leyner to set the stage. So begins the alleged autobiography of the author Kirkus once dubbed “the poet laureate of the MTV generation.” If The Tetherballs of Bougainville (1997) was about Leyner’s father, this is an affectionate if honest love letter to his mother, Muriel. Not that the gravity of family drama stops Leyner from going full-on meta with a nesting-doll scenario of such surreal dimensions that there’s no doubt it’s really him. First of all, it’s not even a straight-up autobiography. It’s a novel about Leyner performing a reading of his autobiography in the food court of the Woodcreek Plaza Mall along with his mother, a few fast-food drones—and absolutely no other audience. After an introduction by his mother, Leyner explains the origin of Gone with the Mind, which started as an autobiography in the form of a first-person shooter that begins when the author is assassinated or commits suicide. His ghost must then travel backward in time undoing the events of his life. “The, uh…the goal of the game is to successfully reach my mother’s womb, in which I attempt to unravel or unzip my father’s and mother’s DNA in the zygote, which will free me of having to eternally repeat this life.” His mother’s reaction? “It almost seems like overkill to me.” Despite the hyperstylized self-satire at work here, there’s a sweet story to be had for those who appreciate the author’s singularly outlandish wit.
It’s pointless trying to classify or summarize Leyner’s work. By now readers who get it are prepared to buy the ticket and take the ride.