From his cult classic, I Smell Esther Williams, to his wildly popular and insightful column "Wild Kingdom" appearing in Esquire magazine every month, Mark Leyner has been giving us up close and personal encounters of the most hilarious kind for over a decade.
Now, in his new novel The Tetherballs of Bougainville, Leyner shares with us, long last, the quintessential coming of age story that every writer, at some point, is compelled to tell. In the novel we meet young Mark Leyner, 13-years-old to be exact, as he waits in a New Jersey prison to witness his father's execution. Adolescence is never easy, and it just so happens that this junior high schooler is on deadline to turn in a screenplay for which he has already been awarded the Vincent and Lenore DiGiacomo/Oshimitsu Polymers America Award. And, as it was for all of us during out teenage years, nothing seems to go as planned.
Written as autobiography, screenplay and movie review, The Tetherballs of Bougainville twists three familiar narrative forms into an outlandishly compelling story. Leyner's use of the media-driven formats brilliantly reflects our secret, shameful and hilarious desire to experience our private lives as mass entertainment. The Tetherballs of Bougainville skewers and celebrates American pop culture in the late twentieth century. Leyner's version of our lives is so deeply funny because it is so painfully true.