Hold That Sentence, Embrace That Sentence

Mark Leyner

I probably shouldn’t express such an obviously shallow sentiment, but I sometimes prefer style to substance. I’d rather read cleverly constructed sentences in fluff pieces than pedestrian prose dedicated to grand subjects.

For example, I just finished Mark Leyner’s novel (if you want to call it that) Et Tu, Babe[1].  This narrative is not for the huddling masses, not for the conventional book club.  Its discontinuity can get tiresome; however, to quote the Village Voice, “it begs to be read out loud to friend and strangers alike – if only you could figure out where to stop.”

So, friend, or stranger, allow me to share just a couple of passages with you:

The movie hinges on the question of whether he should be considered a suicide – thereby making his wife ineligible to collect his death benefits – or whether he should be considered a moron who has accidently rid future generations of his genetic toxicity in the self-cleaning oven of Darwinian evolution.

OMG, as the young people say/text, what a phrase, “the self-cleaning oven of Darwinian evolution.”

One more.

–Do you believe in God?

–Yes, sir.

–Do you believe in an anthropomorphic, vengeful, capricious god who can look down on one man and give him fabulous riches and look down on another and say you’re history” and give him a cerebral hemorrhage?

–Yes, sir.

–You may take the stand.

So, anyway, if you prefer the Sex Pistols to the Doobie Brothers, you might want to check Leyner out.


[1] Although it’s a narrative that can’t be read in one sitting, possesses recurring characters, Et Tu, Babe is more or less a loosely structured series of gag pieces, many of which produce out-loud laughter. Or as Jay McInerney puts it in his cover blurb: Leyner is a twisted wizard, a genre-busting virtuoso, working at the outer edge of narrative convention.”  

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