Book Review: Gone with the Mind

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For the past few years I haven’t read a single book without reviewing that book on some internet platform, usually Goodreads. Sometimes it is just a few lines of approval. Most often it is a few paragraphs on how the book made me feel and the general relevance and gravitas of the words. And on the rare occasion a logorrhea of critiques and insults will ensue due to my disappointment or general chagrin.

I always appreciate good reviews on books I am interested in delving into, so I find it only fair and right to let the world know what I think about a book. Many books I cannot recall how I stumbled into their pages, but will forever be grateful for the stroke of serendipity. So if a descriptive sentence can steer a potential reader towards a tome that moves them at a time that they need to be so moved, then all will have been worthwhile.

I recently finished a book that was an absolute assault on the mind. It forced me to re-read lines, re-read whole pages, and look up words as if I was preparing a dissertation paper on a subject I knew nothing about. It was a book that was confusing and hard and annoying, but all the while it kept me curious and deeply interested. The book is called Gone with the Mind. The author’s name is Mark Leyner. I will explain more about the plot and theme of the book in a minute. First, how did I even come to know Mark Leyner exists? Honestly, I saw him on an interview with Charlie Rose, circa 1996. He seemed like a poorly dressed man who took himself way too seriously and wanted nothing more than for people to know how widely intelligent he was. Alas, he was there on the show being compared to one of my all-time favorite authors, David Foster Wallace. Both were labeled post-modernists. Both were known for their extremely large vocabularies. And both were known for writing difficult, hilarious, and wildly non-linear novels. So I thought, what the hell? I read up about Mr. Leyner and found the plot summaries of his books to be new and intriguing, and maybe even Wallace-esque. So, instead of reading his first book or his most famous opus I decided to read his recently released book with vague allusions to Gone with the Wind in the title.

I am not sure I followed this pseudo-autobiography as well as I would have liked to, but I know what I gathered and soaked up was lovely and viscerally enjoyable. The book has multiple narrators and basically is one intense and tangential monologue of a narcissistic paranoid author with mommy issues. But it isn’t some poorly veiled look into one man’s troubled and hyper-dramatized life, it’s a creative work of metafictionalized genius. Leyner meanders, jumps, and soars through the past, through his mind, and through the possibilities of life. If you allow the story, which is unusual and often frustratingly unclear, touch you you will find how much you can relate and how much life is wonderfully disconnected and boggled.

I’m sure many will find it uncouth or pedantic, but I found Gone with the Mind to be nothing short of a bizarre masterpiece.

If you care to know what else I have read or what I think about certain works, be sure to look me up on Goodreads.

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