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Et Tu, Babe , by Mark Leyner

Et Tu, Babe - Mark Leyner

In this book, at least, Mark Leyner is a late 20th century Hennie Youngman. Who the hell is Hennie Youngman, you ask? If you aren't older than dirt, you may well ask. Monsieur Youngman was a stand up comedian whose schtick was telling an infinite number of 2- or 3-line jokes in an extremely rapid-fire manner; almost all of them were as old as he was, but there were so many that a few were funny, by accident.


Like I said, Mark Leyner is a late 20th century Hennie Youngman, at least in this book. Many, many short pieces of straining hipster hyperbole rapidly go by. Here's one, in toto


Dear Editors at Swank,


Your article on the sensitive areolas of large-breasted women was excellent. Also, thanks for the recipe of paella valenciana that you published in the October Swank. I'm no gourmet chef, but I made the dish for my girlfriend and after dinner she couldn't keep her prosthetic hands off of my veiny nine-inch chorizo.


Yes, I know, irony... 


But, sometimes, there is a somewhat funny bit:


-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.


But then, moments later, comes something like this:


-My great-great-great-great-grandfather was a nobleman in Spain in the fifteenth century and it was he who first discovered that the atomized saliva of hunchbacks enhances the growth of flowers. He, in fact, retained a large staff of hunchbacks to sneeze on his tulips.


Ahhh, quel esprit merveilleux !  - You know, sarcasm. 


From the blurb on the book:


In this fiendishly original new novel, Mark Leyner is a leather-blazer-wearing, Piranha 793-driving, narcotic-guzzling monster who has potential rivals eliminated by his bionically enhanced bodyguards, has his internal organs tattooed, and eavesdrops on the erotic fantasies of Victoria's Secret models - which naturally revolve around him.



I can't help but think that Mark Leyner is trying to be a hip, and heterosexual, William Burroughs - a William Burroughs for the New Age. Well, Senator, I knew William Burroughs, and you are no William Burroughs.


The Washington Post Book World praises Leyner as "a provocative social critic." Perhaps they had this passage in mind:


When I arrive at the Jack Lalanne Health Spa, there is no sign that a clandestine meeting of ultra-right-wing intellectuals and psychics is taking place in its sauna. Yelping aerobics classes, the echo of racquetballs, sweaty florid-faced hausfraus in garish leotards slumped at juice machines, men with hairy jiggling breasts and gelatinous rolls of stretch-marked belly fat grimly tramping on treadmills and Stairmasters - nothing out of the ordinary.


This really is the level of the "social criticism" in this book, and of most of the hyperbolic humor, as well. 


Alright, folks. I never did get my hipster card, so you don't need to demand that I turn it in now.