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The Tetherballs of Bougainville: A Novel Paperback

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage (September 1, 1998)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 067976349X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0679763499
  • Product Dimensions: 8 x 5.2 x 0.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (45 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #623,084 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews Review

Mark Leyner's hyperactive, relentlessly vivid The Tetherballs of Bougainville stars a fictionalized 13-year-old version of himself. Young Leyner--who sounds just like the author, the conceit is insincere--must watch the state of New Jersey execute his PCP-addled father; lose his virginity in a drunken, drugged revel with the comely warden; and write a screenplay about these things, all within the space of a day. Don't be alarmed, just turn off your left brain and keep reading. The Tetherballs of Bougainville is a soup of observation, weird juxtaposition, parody, and ribaldry that will leave some people stymied, but others positively delighted. The satire--and sense--is where you find it.

Here's Mark, with an aside: "As I browse through this astonishing array of contraband, I can't help but marvel at the ingenuity of the inmates. In the Body Cavity/Rectal section, for instance--I can imagine someone smuggling in a wrapped shank ... But four 5-piece place settings of Bastille stainless-steel flatware? I can see how, during a visit, a girlfriend could convey, through a kiss, a condom partially filled with heroin. But a 959-piece Alsatian Village Puzzle? How? Piece by piece, one kiss per visit per week? Imagine the incarcerated hobbyist's Zen-like equanimity."

Rich stuff, this. But as disorienting as the book may be, it possesses a brutal amount of horsepower--the amount of laughs it will induce excuse myriad indulgences. Half novel, half screenplay, packed to the endpapers with pop culture, The Tetherballs of Bougainville is a full-body experience. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Library Journal

In this day in the life of his 13-year-old self, Leyner (Tooth Imprints on a Corn Dog, LJ 3/15/95) swings zanily from good news to bad, expertly satirizing pop culture and skewering some of his contemporaries along the way. Waiting to see his father executed in prison, young Mark learns he's won a prestigious screenplay contest (for which he has yet to write the screenplay). When Dad's lethal injection fails, he's sentenced to New Jersey State Discretionary Execution (NJSDE)?under which he can be killed anytime, anywhere, in any way?and Mark postpones a trip to the library to dally with the attractive female warden. Even readers who might take offense at the overlay of sex, drugs, and rock'n'roll may find passages to admire (such as the glossy NJSDE brochure) in this impressively researched satire. Fans of this quirky cult author will love it. Recommended, but an optional purchase.?Michele Leber, Fairfax P.L., Va.
Copyright 1997 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

4.4 out of 5 stars
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See all 45 customer reviews
This must be the best of Leyner's books, but it's still a difficult read.
Keith Otis Edwards
If you've ever wondered what it's like to be on the manic end of manic depression, this is the book for you.
Justin M. Klotz
It takes a certain amount of hipness to really appreciate Mark Leyner's slant.
T. Turner

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

12 of 14 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on June 27, 1999
Format: Paperback
It's funny, Mark Leyner's writing has not only rekindled my interest in the English language, but has led me to re-assess my existence in "po-mo" America and to embrace the detritus of our prepackaged culture with somehing resembling a 4-year-old's joyful abandon during sandbox shenanigans.
Before I discovered Leyner, I was one of those whiny cynics who pretended to pine for the "old days" (whatever that means!) and dreamt of a Walden-like existence in the woods of Colorado, free from the Internet and MTV and crystal meth. But now I am a proud, card-carrying member of the pop-culture metropolis.
Leyner writes for OUR world, and if his writing is too "pointless" or "discontinous" or "discursive" for you, then I suggest you check out of life right now because THAT IS THE MODERN WORLD in a nutshell. I mean, what's the pont of the Taco Bell chihuahua? Are we to honestly believe that this Mexican canine is some sort of culinary authority? Surely not. Why are today's cinematic masterpieces rarely delivered in a linear narrative style (Resevoir Dogs, Pulp Fiction, Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels)? WHY? Because fast-cut, short-attention-span art is THE art of the late twentieth century--it perfectly parallels the society which we have created--the info-ridden, megawatt global community we've constructed from satellite signals and cyberspacial girders.
Now, maybe you hate the modern world. Fine, but don't blame Leyner--he didn't build it. He's merely it's voice.
And what a voice! Leyner's writing manages to embrace and mock the rapid pace of our technological age simultaneously, and this duality is what makes his work interesting and inspiring.
Read more ›
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful By L. Wallach on October 11, 2000
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
The Tetherballs of Bogainville is an odd book. To say the least! It is a so-called "genre-buster" in that it is one of a new class of novels that strive to be completely unclassifiable. Tetherballs does this fairly successfully.
The protagonist of the novel is Mark, a thirteen-year-old highly precocious boy who strides around in leather pants and no shirt. The entire novel is told from his perspective and it seems to be one bizarre tangent after another! I can't even remember a fraction of them. The humor is sophisticated, but so absurdist that I have found myself breaking out into guffaws at many points!
But because of it's ridiculous nature, tangents, etc., it is sometimes a bit hard to read - you start getting numb to the roller coaster ride that Leyner puts you on. So I have had to limit my exposure and put the book aside for a few days after reading each chapter or two.
This book is not for the weak of stomach or the uptight. However, if you have a good sense of humor and like your humor dry yet absurd, with a ton of references thrown in from the historical to the scientific, and you don't mind mixing your reality with a good deal of fantasy, you will find Tetherballs a fascinating read!
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By R. W. Rasband VINE VOICE on June 12, 2000
Format: Paperback
Marvelously funny satire/parody of the interactive media state. It's like a whole world wide web unto itself. This novel now looks like an outlandishly funny exaggeration; 20 years fron now it might just be everyday reality (whatever that is.)
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on May 11, 1999
Format: Paperback
By all means, read "The Tetherballs of Bougainville" by Mark Leyner. It's cynical and spastic and hilarious. Leyner is like David Foster Wallace with his moral compass surgically removed and replaced with the complete works of Monty Python crossed with Thomas Pynchon if he were raised on MTV by rich Eurotrash in New Jersey. And he seems to be getting better; I've enjoyed each of his books more than the previous one, and this one is no exception. (Having read his first book after some of the more recent ones, I believe that it's not that I'm getting to know and/or like his style more, but that he's actually getting better.) This is a book of pyrotechnic linguistic ability, brilliant and incessant cultural references, stunning imagery (my favorite: Buddhist monks paginating toilet tissue, which is tossed off as part of a larger joke about interactive literature), and very little plot, although more than in his previous work. What plot there is is rife with internal inconsistencies, but they're so glaring as to be obviously intentional. (At least with Mark Leyner one can speak of internal inconsistencies so glaring as to be obviously intentional, as opposed to e.g. Philip K. Dick, whose work contains internal inconsistencies so glaring as to be obviously the result of the book having been written in a 48-hour amphetamine-fueled frenzy on deadline.) It is also a book of long, complicated sentences. I like that.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By x_bruce on April 14, 2003
Format: Paperback
"The Tehterballs of Bougainville" while far from your standard fiction novel is still Mark Leyner's most accessable book and most plot driven.
The narrative is, as usual with Leyner, taut with jackhammer style bursts of narrative. Leyner dispenses with detail and spends his time creating vivid, drug-like situations.
A execution goes wrong and the person to be executed is given a letter explaining he will be killed at a later date of the state's choosing without his knowledge, it may be while he's eating, etc.
The young protagonist gets it on with the female warden in a drug stupored sex scene.
The young protagonist is constantly interrupting procedings to take calls from his agent.
These are Mark Leyner themes. They crop up in all his work but here he manages to keep the narrative together and still deliver on the super-charged writing style that at once reads like a travel poster and a crazed rant.
Read the excerpts to see if this appeals to you. Leyner has some readers that dismiss him as fast food, faux literature. You may be one of these people, or you may appreciate the style which some newer authors have taken note of or have been influenced by.
Read Leyner and then read Chuck Palahniuk. Palahniuk is still a dense, fast read but seems languid compared to Leyner. Intentional or not these authors remind me of one another for their terse prose and cutural obsessions. Leyner tends to stick to seemingly lighter subjects but in fact makes the same points with the use of broader comedy and absurdism.
A fun, quick read that can be enjoyed more than once.
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