tetherballs of bougainville

the glorious return of Mark Leyner

When I returned to the US this week, I was incredibly excited to see that the author of one of my favorite books ever was releasing his first novel in 15 years. A few years ago, I read The Tetherballs of Bougainville. I remember starting it while riding the train home–both a fantastic idea and a terrible one. I flipped by every page with lightning speed but tried so hard to keep the insane laughter inside. I even taught an excerpt to my undergrads a few semesters ago. But be warned, this book is so good it might fizzle your brain. I kept thinking to myself, How in god’s name did this man write this? I wish I would have written this! It is an exhaustive process to read and I’m sure Leyner’s hiatus could be attributed to his own mind-numbing fizzle.

It is so hard to explain to someone what the plot of Tetherballs is because of its ability to make the reader feel like they’re doing hyperactive cartwheels (but in the good way). In Ben Marcus’ NY Times review of Leyner’s new book, The Sugar Frosted Nutsack, he abbreviates the plot analysis of Tetherballs to,

Mark Leyner is a teenage screenwriting prodigy, summoned to prison to witness his father’s execution by lethal injection. His father survives (with a vicious hangover), only to be told that the State of New Jersey reserves the right to kill him in the future. Anytime. Anywhere.

Excerpt from Tetherballs: (click to enlarge)

I can’t wait to get my hands on the new book.