Gone With the Mind is a blindingly weird novel: a book-length stand-up routine in which a man free-associates about his life to a mostly empty room, mixing the philosophical and the scatological with abandon. At times, it seems to be an argument against autobiography, as well as a lament about the impossibility of actually communicating with an audience. But after Leyner gets done slicing the fictionalized version of his life into small and disconnected fragments, the slivers turn out to draw blood...truly absurd and absurdly true.
Gone With The Mind at times feels like the urtext of Leyner’s career, the culmination of what he’s capable of stylistically and tonally. It’s not as completely enjoyable as past works like Why Do Men Have Nipples?, a funny work of medical nonfiction, or The Sugar Frosted Nutsack, a novel about ancient gods chilling in Dubai, but that feels partially by design
Packed with — as Mark puts it earlier in his non-reading reading — 'cosmic apercus and trippy metaphysical speculation,' Gone with the Mind is all strained anticipation and endlessly prolonged prologue. Leyner delivers an exercise in deferred gratification that is itself immensely entertaining and surprisingly gratifying.
Gone With The Mind is Leyner's new novel. A novel that is, by turns, autobiographical, fictional, touching and just flat-out insane...I loved the thing. All of it. Or anyway, 90% of it. It is looping and self-referential, alternately bonkers and manic and depressive.
As it happens, Gone with the Mind, is both the perfect introduction to Leyner’s work and demonstrative of the reasons it has languished in relative obscurity...If Leyner’s goals were honest, Gone with the Mind is the product of two decades of searching for the correct formula for the not-great readers, somehow producing one of the most compulsively readable literary novels I’ve read in years. I read it cover to cover in one sitting. This is Mark Leyner commenting on fiction in a way that only he can; he admirably dissects the problems with modern readers while simultaneously building a bridge to new readership.