13 May 2016

A Note on Gone with the Mind

A Note on Gone with the Mind

     Mark Leyner's latest novel, Gone with the Mind, much of which takes place in the food court of a mall where Mark reads his autobiography standing on a table with his mother present to a Panda Express worker and a Sbarro worker on break for a total of three, reflects a person apparently who has accomplished nothing other than accumulating a massive vocabulary and the ability to recollect decades of  TV shows and movies and the actors in them.  Mark, the person presenting his autobiography and presumably the author, has as the two most influential people in his life, his mother and his Imaginary Intern who, while existing for a number of years in Mark's imagination carried on significant conversations with Mark and was, it seems from the autobiography, a constant presence until abruptly disappearing.  

     We do learn that Mark actually had a father, a sister, and a wife.  Even mom, in her introduction which is forty-one pages in length to begin the book, makes little reference to dad, and in any detail to only the sister who died very young.  The autobiography is an internal dialog transcribed, reflecting no accomplishments other than Mark's massive vocabulary which is impressive.  If Mark has had any affect on the world, it is not expressed nor can one infer that his life has much meaning to anyone other than his mother.

     The book ends with him and his mother on their hands in knees in a stall of a woman's bathroom at the mall looking for images of people in the craquelure of the tile on the floor.  The craquelure at home is the origin of the Imaginary Intern who at some time disappeared because Mark could no longer conjure him up from the tiles.  Much of the autobiography is the relation of the Imaginary Intern with Mark and the discussions they have had on various topics. It is unclear whether the many conversations between Mark and the Imaginary Intern are strictly internal or whether Mark has a history of spending his days in verbal displays with his Imaginary Intern to the annoyance of those around him.

     What I take from this book is a waste of a life; a life with no purpose, no accomplishment, and no meaning.  Whether or not Mr. Leyner's intent was to portray this is undetermined.  The blurbs on the cover say the book is hilarious, a moving portrait of a mother-son relationship, dizzingly brilliant, dazzling, heartfelt, singular, wild-ass, fearless, and a work of genius.  None of these are true.  Both Mark and his mother are very singular people obsessed with each other and themselves to the exclusion of others.  Neither would be much of an acquaintance.