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A Postmodern Belch

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This edition of A Postmodern Belch has been discredited. Pending article 9.6 of the Creative Commons Licence, portions of this work contain improperly brushed syllables taken from a 1978 edition of A Postmodern Belch and inelegantly buffered clauses taken from a 1997 edition of A Postmodern Belch. This edition of A Postmodern Belch is adapted from the 2007 edition of A Postmodern Belch and includes the missing correspondence between Luca Brasi and Lionel Blair that never made it into the 1808 edition.

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334 pages, Paperback

First published October 9, 2012

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About the author

M.J. Nicholls

18 books174 followers
A man who wrote the novels A Postmodern Belch, The House of Writers, The Quiddity of Delusion, The 1002nd Book to Read Before You Die, Scotland Before the Bomb, Trimming England and Condemned to Cymru. He lives in Glasgow.

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5 stars
17 (36%)
4 stars
14 (29%)
3 stars
10 (21%)
2 stars
1 (2%)
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5 (10%)
Displaying 1 - 30 of 33 reviews
Profile Image for MJ Nicholls.
2,049 reviews4,115 followers
Shelved as 'my-writing'
August 10, 2014
Interview with The Author

MJ: You are The Author of this undergraduate folly, correct?
MJ: I am.
MJ: What did you hope to gain by self-publishing a no-holds-barred tricksy embarrassment like this?
MJ: Love and acclaim.
MJ: Ha!
MJ: Just kidding. I hoped to free myself from the self-conscious novel. From the tiresome limitations of self-reference.
MJ: Did you succeed?
MJ: Once you let doubt and awareness creep in you’re never free.
MJ: Tell us about the novel.
MJ: Three characters, Harold (based on me), Lydia (based on the woman I would like to be), and Greg (based on boring normals) wrestle for control of the novel, A Postmodern Belch.
MJ: Is that it? For 334pp?
MJ: Yep.
MJ: Uh . . . .
MJ: There are different fonts! Larger fonts! Footnotes! Sometimes fonts fluctuate in size mid-sentence.
MJ: God, you are so crazy. Such a fucking innovator.
MJ: This is turning into self-abuse now.
MJ: So?
MJ: A Postmodern Belch is all about self-abuse. It’s about being locked in a mind so paralysed by the reality of the self (don’t snigger) that it cannot tame its characters, cannot escape the solipsistic hells of the hyper self-aware long enough to create a decent story.
MJ: Who needs a decent story?
MJ: Exactly.
MJ: Who needs characters, plots, emotional sustenance, depth and intelligent discourse?
MJ: Exactly.
MJ: When you can have three unpleasant bastards shouting at each other for 367pp about how much they hate being products of the M.J. Nicholls imagination and fonts that expand mid-clause and crazy kerning and childish swear words every four lines in place of actual substance, thought, creativity, excitement, humour, energy or meaning?
MJ: Exactly.
MJ: You have written the least readable book in the galaxy.
MJ: I hope so.
MJ: Who will read it?
MJ: The self-loathing. People who hate me.
MJ: That’s your audience?
MJ: Works for Martin Amis.
MJ: Thank me for my time.
MJ: Thank you. Me.

One can acquire A Postmodern Belch here.
Profile Image for Nathan "N.R." Gaddis.
1,342 reviews1,370 followers
August 2, 2014

riverbelch, past Isold and Mark’s, from post of mod to belch of bay, brings us unfortunately to a terrible farce. -- Jimmy Jamesons Coo-Caw

"13THREE (3) more Likes and it'll be my most popul’aire Review : even more popul’aire than that one I wrote for the MAX-DFW-BIO." -- That Guy Who Always Thinks Of The Children.

“Belch is a sort of Glass wherein beholders do generally discover their own g.b.d. in their own f.a.c.e,; which is the Chief Reason for that kind Reception it meets with in the world, and that so very few are off=ended with it." -- Nathandjoe Swift-Sterne

"This is by far the best piece of fiction ever penned." -- J.R.R. Tolkien

{- like the tippy tappy of a typewriter ?? -: ??!! - : ′′′′′′′′′′′′′′′′ ¦ ----,-------;-------!----′′′′′′′′′ (?) ′′′′′′′′˙`````````} -- Arno Schmidt

"Does anyone even read Nicholls anymore these days?" -- Coleman Dowell

"A legally actionable bit of Playgairism." -- Raymond Federman

"I don't know which is worse. Reading The Belch. Or reading about The Belch." -- Woody Allen

"Are you kidding me? Five stars since the beginning! No question!" -- Carl Sagan

"I began with the assumption that time, place, action, and good taste were the enemies of really revolting lyrical novels." -- M.J. Nicholls

"This was more fun than the last three DFW books I read, combined." -- DT Max

“Writing meta-fictional fiction is akin to squeezing out a solid every morning. Any turd with a toilet can do it.” -- DFW

"Best goddamn book you pipskeaqs'll read this year." -- Greg

The ★ Review

I want those 37 minutes back! This book is awful; a total disaster. I’m sure the author is a very nice guy and all but he can’t write worth shit. There is not a single identifiable character in this “novel,” and I mean not just a character I can identify with, but there’s not even a character in here. And plot? Are you kidding me? There is more plot in eee equals emmcee squared. Of course I didn’t read the whole thing--I got tired of running to the dictionary every three pages (why does every damn pomo author have to be so egotistical and use words us average readers don’t even know?) Anyone that says they’ve read this whole Belch (“Vomit” would be more accurate) is a liar. This is worse than The Iliad my teacher forced me to read.

The ★★ Review

The Postmodern Belch by someone named “M.J. Nicholls” (I think it’s a “pseudonym”) is an odd little book but I did enjoy it. It’s not as bad nor as offensive as some people make it out to be, but it’s also not that great. Clearly this guy has talent, but I think he is more interested in shocking people with sexual humor than he is in writing a good story that tells us something about what it’s like to live on this planet and love one another. And that’s really too bad because I think that if he put his mind to it he could write a really good books. I don’t think I would want to live next door to this guy, but I don’t know. One thing I found odd, and I hope the Author (or “Narrator” ;- ) ) will take this as ‘constructive’ criticism, is that, despite all the weird sex-humor, there was not a single tampon joke. I think that a few pages riffing on tampons would have pushed this novel into the ★★★ territory. I look forward to reading “M.J. Nicholls’” next novel because I think he might write something really interesting next time. This one just didn’t do it for me.

The ★★★ Review

MJ Nicholls (MJN for short) has published a really interesting book in “A Post Modern Belch.” I think it has a lot of potential. I even like all the weird po-mo stuff about the author talking to his characters and how difficult it is to write a novel. It really must be difficult to write a novel because this one looks like it was really difficult to write. You can tell. And I think we should really tell “MJN” that he did a really good job. He really made a solid effort here. It’s just a tragedy that such a talented author is forced to publish his book hisself because he really is talented and with the help of a really good editor (I mean one that gets paid really well and really knows how to edit this kind of po-mo novel) His novel “Belch” could have been really tightened up and made better. And I don’t mean that it should have been shorter--actually it could have used another 100 pages!!!! (It really was that good!)--but that it just felt a little flabby in places and there are typos and as one other review pointed out a lot of the Biological “facts” got wrong. I don’t know much about how hard it is to write a novel, but I really liked this one and this author I hope doesn’t disappear permanently in the self-publishing vortex. I hope he doesn’t become another Sergio de la Pava.

The ★★★★ Review

A Postmodern Belch is the best self-published book that you will read this year. Don’t miss out. DFW once made some snarky comment about how easy it is to “squeeze out” metafiction. He’s wrong. You can squeeze all you want, but it takes someone with true literary talent like our young M.J. Nicholls to really make those meta’s sing a song this sweet. His novel is a dazzling display of wit and erudition all shaped into a story about the writing of A Postmodern Belch and the ill-fated attempts of its “Author” and/or its “Narrator” to wrest control of the narrative away from its characters each of which would appear to be the novel’s narrator at some point or other; the whole which creates a dizzying effect of being lost in mirrors reflecting mirrors and not being certain where exactly one might be or who one is. Ontological angst, indeed! And for all of those detractors who might say something juvenile like “Sorrentino did it better” I’ll just point out that the author, M.J. Nicholls, had not even read Sorrentino when he was writing this novel, nor had he read Barth or Coover or Acker or the masterful Mark Leyner or many of the other postmodern, metafictional masters (and had not even heard the Thing-Fish record). It is to his credit that he could come up with something so original, even if it is exactly like its predecessors, when he hadn’t even read the things he was imitating. It’s really genius! This would have been a five star book, but it suffers from the same set-backs that every self-published book suffers from, lack of an editor. Sell your soul, Mr Nicholls, to a big publishing house, get a good editor, and you’ll be on your way to fame! I really look forward to reading his next novel.

The ★★★★★ Review

It is really difficult to review your own book. Instead, I was going to give a full biographical account of the writing of A Postmodern Belch but that would have involved telling you a little too much about the world you dwell in, and a serious Author never wants to “Spoiler” anyone’s experience of his novel or of their existence. Such knowledge would have a negative impact upon goodreads reviews and would perhaps cause several YA readers to close their goodreads accounts in disgust. Instead, I just want to take this opportunity to address a concern raised in a prior review--the absence of tampon jokes. The first several drafts of A Postmodern Belch (the first seventeen, if my memory serves) had many tampon (“Tampax”? I always get confused about which word is copyrighted) jokes, a lot really, about one for every two pages on average, but in a few sections of the novel there were like five per page. Whilst working on the 18th (possibly the 26th) draft of A Postmodern Belch I took a weekend’s break to attend the Grindcore Bands of the World Remember Seth Putnam, RIP, three days of grindcore, porncore, gorecore, splattercore, emo-killingcore, and mummycore madness. It occurred to me, about half-way through the Nekro-Drunkz set, that tampax (“Tampon”?) jokes have become totally passé. Upon my return to my writing desk I immediately began the excision of the tampon/tampax jokes. It was a painful process, but I think it all worked out for the best. I really hope you read my novel and enjoy reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it. Let me know what you think of it, but, even if you don’t like it, please be honest about why you didn’t like it. Bye!

Bonus Track; previously available only in Iceland as Postmodern Belch Review by Nathan “N.R.” Gaddis, B-side

The Author, the Narrator, its Characters, His Readers, My Readers, and the Rest shall stew for a spell under that demeaning Single Star. Think about it. Don't make stupid, snarky comments in the comment boxes below. Any comment made after Comment #25, the quintessence of snark from which you could learn a thing or two, will be promptly deleted pending the completion of what will prove to be the Be All End All Review of The Postmodern Belch. [Also, don't Like this review; not until the Be All End All Review is in place. Should you do so, you will be duly chastised.]

Postmodern Belch Review by Nathan “N.R.” Gaddis, B-side, the Extended Mix to be found in Comments Thread, comments #26-40

Ultra-rare pre-release teaser track, previously available only at the Estonia Release Party for Postmodern Belch Review by Nathan “N.R.” Gaddis [limited to 26 signed, greenish-swirled flexi-disc].


Prescience; Or, The Wisdom Before The Read

This will sit with the rest of my unread Status books: War and Peace, Homer, Shakespeare, my complete collection of Stephen King, Catcher in the Rye, Women and Men, Infinite Jest, Ayn Rand, Being and Time, Introductory Lectures on Pyscho-Analysis, two dvd sets of Wagner's Ring, 11 volumes each of Copleston and Durant, anything by Austens or Brontes, Advanced Critical Care Nursing, Die Bibel mit Apokryphen, Hegel's Gesammelte Werke, something flashy each from Foucault and Derrida, a dictionary, The Three Little Pigs and Winnie Pooh both in classical Greek, a Norsk textbook, Kritik der reinen Vernunft in six languages, Plato's Republic in 14 different editions, two books each from Evan Dara and Sergio de la Pava, a binder-archive of goodreads reviews printed for future blackmail opportunities, Poe's complete works, Missa Solemnis on vinyl, not a single volume of Gil Sorrentino, the Star Wars novels shelved chronologically, Virgil and Dante, The Sagas of the Islanders, and an inscribed exemplar of Philosophical Investigations. [This track is preserved here solely for archival purposes. As any astute reader will notice, it is sorely out of date.]

A Final Fail: The Norsk Review
[review of not-no-more-existent edition]

Would that I had known about this fantastic Norwegian translation of En Postmoderne Oppstøt before I read it in English because you know that it could only be an improvement. Apparently the translator (uncredited) decided to turn the verse-into-prose translation tendency (always a bad idea) on its head and take a prose-into-verse approach. So far, just from this one excerpt alone, it's fantastic:

"Endeløst du kriget på steppene
Nådeløst du herjet i fjellene
Du tok dine seire med storm
Knuste fienden ved din hand

Åh, Attila!
Gjør meg til din tjener
Åh, Attila
Ta meg til din hær"

[That might have been a blurb from the back cover by Abbath, I'm not sure, my Norsk is not very good]

Profile Image for Ian "Marvin" Graye.
874 reviews2,266 followers
March 24, 2013
What Would Happen If I Tried to Enter Someone Else’s Novel?

Earlier this year, this triplasian 333 page volume was delivered to my modest residence by a vehicle whose only identifying marks were a muted trumpet logo and the acronym W.A.S.T.E. (I think that's an acronym? MJ, help me).

My wife, FM Sushi, was typically suspicious that I had received a parcel from somebody called "Lulu", well "Lulu.com", to be precise.

Knowing my private affairs as she does (she manages my Gmail account for both remuneration and entertainment), she enquired, "Doesn't W.A.S.T.E. normally deliver the books you get from that vamp, Oedipa Maas?"

My explanation that Lulu was a vanity publishing outfit was less than persuasive. Or so it seemed.

Then she turned the book in her hands, ran her delicate fingers along its spine and laughed, revealing that she had been pulling my leg all along.

"M.J. Nicholls? I've read some of his reviews." Her smile reminded me of a shark about to attack. "He has a lot of qualities a man could be vain about."

I couldn't work out whether there was an element of admiration in her remark.

She has never complimented one of my literary efforts like that. Well, to be honest, any of my efforts. (She is the inspiration for my well-honed sense of modesty.)

Some time afterwards, I noticed that the book had gone missing.

I looked in our recycling bin, to see if she'd accidentally thrown it out with the packaging. No. She had spared it the fate of most of my metafiction.

Then as the temperature plummeted with a mid-morning storm and I realised I needed something warmer than my Big Lebowski t-shirt, I went into our bedroom and noticed that she had put MJ's Meisterwerk (I learned this very useful word from Scribble, or was it Nathan, or MJ himself?) on her bedside table.

Not only that, she had removed half a dozen "you must read this" books I had recommended to the library downstairs.

When I quizzed her about the pile of literary tips, including one on "corporate personality' that Bird Brian had rated five stars, she replied, "I don't need to read them." I waited for the shark again..."I've already read your reviews...and they were quite enough, thank you."

Again, I wasn't sure whether this constituted flattery, but she soon cleared that up.

"In fact, in some cases, I think your review was longer than the book."

"Bullshit," I declared, defiantly. "That was only 'Infinite Jest', no others. And that was the whole point!"

Determined to further injure my pride, she added, "Then, I suppose, you have to count the footnotes, too."

It was clear that FM Sushi was getting ready to settle in with MJ.

I await the outcome of her dalliance reading with interest, so that I can complete my non-anal excel spreadsheet containing the reading schedule for my to-be-read list. (I have to work out where to slot it in between several volumes of Proust.)

Strictly on the QT, I also await the imminent arrival of my black vinyl summer pyjamas.

I must keep an eye out for the postman's scooter. Or should that be an "ear out"?

Who knows what FM Sushi would think about a package from "Victoria&LolitasSecret.com"?

Its logo is a muted strumpet. Or two, if I recall correctly.

In the meantime, I'm giving this novel one star.

I'm not increasing it, until MJ gives me my wife back.

A Straight Swap

"I’ve come to return your thistle," Horrold (AKA M.J. Nicholls) said, finally, this morning.

"Thistle? No no no, Horrold. When she left me, she was a full woman thing. With woman things."

"Nice ones, eh?"

"I want her back. In the state she left me. She belongs to me."

"I propose a straight swap. You give me a good review, I’ll give you your wife back."

"I can’t guarantee a good review. I haven’t read the book yet."

"What about a good review from your wife then?"

We both turned to FM Sushi. She nodded.

FM Sushi’s Review

This book reminded me of a man’s penis. Could it have been any better if it was longer? Would I have missed anything if it was shorter? In both cases, the answer is no.

These views might come as no surprise to anyone who is familiar with my husband and who will therefore know me as someone who is content with the merely adequate.

DJ Ian Interviews Postmodernist Author MJ Nicholls

This is an edited version of an "interview" DJ Ian did with the "author".

As much as he loves MJ Nicholls, DJ Ian's job was to stay out of the way as much as possible and let him riff in his own words (all, well, most, of which derive from his book and not a "real" interview between a "real" DJ and a "real" author).

DJ Ian: Today in the studio I have "author", MJ Nicholls, whose novel sees Man, not to mention Woman, rise from the Primordial Slime to the Postmodern Belch. Welcome, MJ.

MJ Nicholls: Thank you.

DJ Ian: You say this is a postmodern novel, but the word on GoodReads is that it is a self-indulgent exercise in distracting postmodern bullshit. It is vapid and pointless. None of the invention, playfulness, wit or erudition of postmodernism are present here. In short, it’s boring.

MJ Nicholls: That’s bullshite, obviously. I’m here to bulldoze the boredom. To pile-drive the prose. To bedeck the slow indulgent bits of the novel in a regalia of quirks and lunatic tendencies. I'm here to irritate, invigorate, to confront.

DJ Ian: So your agenda isn’t just some undergraduate pisstake? It’s more ambitious?

MJ Nicholls: You could almost say, postgraduate. The initial conceit was that it be would be the book to end all books, to debook the book so to speak. I wanted to create a new superstructure of literature and pave the way for future generations of artists and thinkers...an uberbook.

DJ Ian: Marvin Amiss wasn't particularly impressed...

MJ Nicholls: We come from different schools of writing – he the highly disciplined Oxford school of stylistic obsession (an endlessly searching desire to achieve a state of beyond Nabokovian eloquence) – while I am content to be a playful satirist/humorist, lounging on the sidelines poking fun at literary styles and idioms.

DJ Ian: Another criticism that has been levelled at your work is that it is onanistic.

MJ Nicholls: I think a certain amount of onanism is essential to any postmodern work, perhaps even the author/reader relationship.

DJ Ian: The problem is, once you've started, you have to know when to stop.

MJ Nicholls: I think you're right. The aim is to stop before it gets out of hand. I like to think I've learned the knack.

DJ Ian: How would you describe the sense of humour of the novel?

MJ Nicholls:It’s a dazzling postmodern comedy – a jocose, absurdist riptide of indulgent piffle and boogerdash...

DJ Ian: You seem to take the piss out of your role as the author?

MJ Nicholls: Throughout the course of this book, I spin a continual reel of self-deprecating humour, harping on about how talentless and worthless the author is, and how his novel is a one-joke idea stretched to the last gasping crumb of credibility.

DJ Ian:You also deprecate the three characters in your novel who believe they are the authors of this fiction?

MJ Nicholls: Exactly, their ideas and values seemed to revolve around cheap exploitation and crude humour.

DJ Ian: Some critics attack the novel for what they call its “perverted exuberance”. It seems to be preoccupied with voluminous vaginas and cocks. There are so many gigantic genitals in sight, a la Robert Coover, it becomes banal.

MJ Nicholls: Well, you know when something is so imposing and grand, it becomes banal. Like a skyscraper or a stretch limo. An extended sandwich with five fillings. Leaves you feeling stuffed for months. That’s how I feel about Harold’s penis...If anything, his penis is a metaphor for the supersize mentality cutting a riptide through our occidental culture.

DJ Ian: What about Lydia’s vagina?

MJ Nicholls: I was hoping someone would ask me that question. Initially, I treated her vagina with a certain degree of curious immaturity.Then it switched to adulation...the flipside of this vagodeification was that Harold performed a series of masochistic, phallocentric mating rituals, whereby he slung his schlong around a series of opaque imaginings of Lydia, hoping to woo her vagina into a kind of self-basting translucence, hungrily awaiting the elixir of his cock.

DJ Ian: It sounds narcissistic...

MJ Nicholls: Lydia is just as narcissistic as Harold. The male characters and I were besotted with this combative, self-important narcissistic hostess of narrative discontent. I wanted somehow to become her torrid lover...Unfortunately, I myself personally, M.J. Nicholls, wasn't a character in the novel. Strictly speaking.

DJ Ian: So, would you like to be a character in one of your novels?

MJ Nicholls: Pretending to be a fictional character is much better than pretending to be a "real" human being.

DJ Ian:What does it take to be a character in one of your novels apart from voluminous genitals?

MJ Nicholls:You have to suffer. Harold existed in a dark bedroom of alienation, cut off from all forms of emotional connection with the ‘real’ world. This is because, like me, Harold is a troubled genius; a perfectionist freak with an agoraphobic bent.

DJ Ian:Is "A Postmoderm Belch" autobiographical?

MJ Nicholls: All I can say is, those reading "A Postmodern Belch" aren’t reading fiction, they’re reading what it’s like to live inside a fiction, and to make fiction one’s reality.

DJ Ian: One of the characters describes the novel like this: "No narrative, no characters, no readers. You’re up the creek, honey…completely lost in the wilderness of your own thoughts." What is your response to that?

MJ Nicholls: This novel is an endlessly regenerating entity, driven by a constantly self-updating stream of tychistic possibilities, arcing out into a million directions with merely the tweak of one sentence. Or, as you might say, "if u right it different it cum out different".

DJ Ian: Many readers, including FM Sushi, were delighted to reach the end of your novel.

MJ Nicholls: A theme of the novel is a kind of end-of-the-novel and end-of-the-world rapture. There is a state of unlimited unhappiness derived from the knowledge that the book is finally about to end.

DJ Ian: What does your novel say about you as an author?

MJ Nicholls: I am a prisoner of the postmodern condition.

DJ Ian: What about your characters, who seem to have a mind of their own?

MJ Nicholls:They don’t exist, obviously. They’re all merely a product of my imagination. Their entire world is a complete fabrication.

DJ Ian:They seem reluctant to meet their author?

MJ Nicholls: As we are reluctant to meet our maker.

DJ Ian: What do you mean?

MJ Nicholls: They are refusing to learn the name of their creator. In human terms, it’s like refusing to discover the identity of your God, to unravel the entire mystery of the universe.

DJ Ian: Your writing is highly self-conscious.

MJ Nicholls: I struggle to write a sentence that is not in some way blatantly aware of itself. Can there exist one prized four-word sentence of perfection that defines all that has been committed to paper since words were invented from logs and twigs?

DJ Ian: Is there one sentence that defines the true mission of your book?

MJ Nicholls: Buggered if I know.

DJ Ian:Is that the sentence or is that your answer?

MJ Nicholls: That’s for the author to know and the reader to find out.

DJ Ian:Well as you say in the novel, you’re still a fuckodicious poncificator. Thank you for joining us.

MJ Nicholls: Thank you for having me, though I don't feel like I've been had. You have the gentle hands of a true belletrist.
Profile Image for David Katzman.
Author 3 books472 followers
February 22, 2014
This review will be a review of this review. Let’s begin by reviewing that first sentence. It contained a significant redundancy. Could it have been shortened to “This will be a review of this review”? It could have been but then it wouldn’t have had as much impact. And the “this” becomes slightly ambiguous. This what? This word? No, as it stands I think it was the most striking introductory sentence I could come up with to indicate that what follows the first sentence will be a review of the review I am currently writing. I’ll give that first sentence 5 stars.

Now let’s review that first paragraph. Really fucking boring. Seriously, could I have come up with a better way to suck the life out of the energy of the first sentence? I suppose if I had followed the first sentence with excerpts from an An Accountant’s Guide to Tax Form 1SJ-3 It might’ve been even more boring. But if my intention was to stay on topic (was it?), then I did a fine job of killing the life out of the first sentence. I’ll give that first paragraph 2 stars because at least it didn’t make me vomit, and I didn’t use offensive language like “retarded,” which I hate.

This is the first sentence of the third paragraph of this review. It seems to be just a placeholder sentence. It served no purpose other than identifying its place in the review. Not a very interesting sentence, is it? No it ent. And I’m not talking about this Ent:

Ent from Lord of the Rings
I’m using a colloquialism to show that I’m “down with the people.” And I put quotes around “down with the people” to show I intended that ironically. Who’s going to see The Hobbit? Anyone? Is there a place for The Hobbit in this review? There is now. Does it feel arbitrary and forced in? Yes! Good!

So back to this review. To this point it contains 1417 characters without spaces, which make up 325 words. I think I definitely could have deworded it a bit. Does it really need every word that I included? I should thin this out. But I won’t, I’m just going to keep going until you tear your eyeballs out. Or you vote to Like it, then you’re permitted to go. I challenge you, dear reader, to vault this review into the stratosphere of most Liked reviews. It would be a vote for irony because this review is about nothing at all. Rather like a snake eating its own tale (sic) or the incestuous backslapping and backstabbing that occur in English Departments at major universities where profs duel over theories about abstract theories. I’m going to give the previous paragraph 2 stars for the picture of an Ent.

Although the previous paragraph was a bit dry overall, and the suggestion that this review could actually garner a tremendous number of votes is highly improbable, I’m going to give that last paragraph 3 stars because I liked the clever bit about a snake eating it’s own “tale.” And the reference to incestuous English Depts is Truth! I got a Master’s degree from University of Wisconsin-Madison in English Lit, and wow did I hate it. Not the school but grad school. Unlike studying English Lit as an undergrad where you are immersed in the reading and analysis of literature, the world of grad students is that of critical theory. Instead of analyzing literature, you spend your time analyzing literary theory and learning it’s esoteric language. It’s garbage.

Wow, bitter much, Katzman? Maybe tone down the rhetoric a little bit there. Don’t want to get overheated; after all, this needs to be a family-friendly review to garner the kind of stupendous voting that will put me on the most-popular reviewer list of Goodreads. I got there once, actually. About a year ago I magically found myself on the list, in the top 25 for vote getters. Since then I’ve been on a downward slide and in fact last week found myself on the list of least voted reviewers just behind Calvin Bunderpants who actually had -239 votes and and Terg Mechanipstick who is imaginary. I’m going to give this paragraph 4 stars for the name “Calvin Bunderpants” and “Terg.”

In summation, this review has overstayed its welcome. Probably too long and with too many words. Some clever bits here and there, maybe a chuckle’s worth. I’ll give it 3 stars. What do you think?
Profile Image for Scribble Orca.
213 reviews379 followers
March 4, 2013

A few weeks ago, a Mr B. May sent me a putrid decaying fungus on behalf of author M.J. Nicholls. The specimen in question is languishing on my shelf of current vivisections, tagged, naturally, Purposefully Debauched Fantasies. Odd how prophetic that hastily constructed euphemism resolved itself to be.

Since this particular fungus has a tendency to sprout monstrous recursions of itself (excuse the use of the word monstrous, the author scatters it magnanimously, along with other appendages of an exponential nature, throughout the text, and this adjective has seemingly lodged itself in the crevasses populating my cerebrum) around the analytick orifices of Goodreads and given that I have yet to wrestle with the String Theory lamellae of A Postmodern Belch, may I direct the casually (dis)interested reader to the following:

The author interview*

The publicist's apology

The Jesus Incident

The academic event

The review, not a review, of the review

The sprat to catch a mackerel

The gadfly's homage to stars and threads

Dr Rayner's monologue

The unfinished ausfahrt

This is not a GR insider's giant my-pomo-is-kooler-than-your-pomo joke?

Art imitating life retroactively in service to the temple of ananas


Never has so much been written by so many saying so little about nothing at all.

It ought [not] to be required reading for Literature Studies apprenticeships. A minor disc[h]ord against the machinations - but wiggling fingers elsewhere, no matter the volume (loud) of truth not contained in it, The Invisible Hand being what it is, words being so grababagable, those involved in funding the getting of books (not wisdom) will refuse to convert (mobi to web, unDRM, really what else is there?). It's more a how-to of colossal self-flagellating and unfortunately exponential dependency relationships.

It scorns everything pertaining to writing: itself and characters, its spectators (wretched creatures), the entrepreneurs, the act of writing, everything ever imagined, fiction or non-fiction and everything thereafter. It highlights to varying [un]successful degrees distaste with academic studies, what passes [wind] or not for literary [ph]art, the rendering to money of books, the drugging down and the innalekshall (Daleks Dalkey anyone?) making small of readers, the poorly me ravishing of writers (requiring an audience, even if only themselves and the doughty weight dangling from their cervical chords (chime chyme: A-B-C-D-E-F-G! Won't you rhyme-a-dime with me?) in sufferance to their audience cramps (oh my stomach) their style - except that what one likes to write determines none as a writer unless in the sense of selling soulless soles to the devil), the structures by which writers are flummoxed hand and foot (poor dears) - one dimensional, technology innovates and demands being a writer and a reader, and the spouts of words spliced together as pretending parody of text.

Read it at your imperil.
Profile Image for Richard.
Author 4 books443 followers
February 10, 2017
Nate Dorr's innate natural ability to review novels has emanated a novel review of a novel kind of novel... kind of... novel... Has he opened a dorr door he cannot close? Have I deconstructed the deconstructivist construction of a review before I've even read the thing? And does that make it a pre-post-review reading or a pre-post-erous review reading, or... glurg!

Oops! Sorry, that was a little belch trying to escape.

Has MJ invented Belchin' literature (as opposed to Belgian literature, which has a long and venerable history behind it already)? Or has he just pre-vented the ventilation of something worse? What could be worse than a postmodern belch, you ask? How about fart for fart's sake?

Reading has begun. A series of impressionistic impressions will probably follow. At least that's the impression I get.

Day 1: Wow, they weren't kidding. This is so indescribably indescribable.

Day 5: Okay, I get it already! MJ is basically a kind of human puppy who thinks language is some sort of chew-toy.

Day 9: The real review will be up as soon as I can finish the book. That is, if I don't lose all sense of reality. I mean, now MJ and Greg are both giving me strong hints that they are not real. Some other reviewers are casting doubts on MJ's gender identity by referring to him as a woman, Mary Jane, I suppose. And no, that's not code for marijuana, although the theory is tempting... Good grief, I'm starting to ramble.

Day 12: p. 132: A footnote so large it takes up more than half the page. If I wanted this, I would go and read one of my Arden Shakespeares. And no one outfootnotes Susanna Clarke! Do you hear me? No one!

Day 14: A blank page. At first I rejoice. (Call you Calais!) A blank page, with nothing to interpret, puzzle over or pull out what little hair I have left over. Then I think to my self, "Self, that's exactly what the Author wants you to think."

Days 16--24: hiatushiatushiatushiatuswhyhateushiatushiatushiatushiatus

Day 25: I've got to finish this book before it finishes me. There's not enough room in this one-horse town for the two of us.

[Cue spaghetti western soundtrack.]

Pirandello and Ionesco walk into a bar. Sartre is serving drinks and some very backward authors are waiting tables. A bald soprano is singing something sultry... Wait, that's not it at all. Let's try that again.

This author and these characters are involved in a situation. We don't know what the author looks like. The characters morph and we're not always sure about basic things like identity, purpose or function. There is Metatheory galore--in fact there is Meta-Everything galore--delivered in a delightfully offbeat way. Parodies. Self-conscious self-referentiality. Extremely weird, disturbing and impossible sex. Nothing happens. 126,727,828 times.

And now for something completely different.


[Grumble. The video, now removed, contained an excerpt of an episode of The Simpsons, in which film critic Jay Sherman bests Homer in a belching contest. But why has it been removed? Am I guilty of moral burpitude for having placed it here in the first place?]


Profile Image for Stephen M.
137 reviews621 followers
March 6, 2013
All the characters represented in this review, including the first person singular, are entirely fictitious and bear no relation to any person living or dead.

Upon finishing that literary-bottom-feeding, Necrophagous waste of paper known as A Postmortem Malaise, Ms. Aerin Pithe-Bot propelled that postmodern prattle across her room in a perfect parabolic arc; it moved for some five whole seconds at a rate of fifteen miles per hour until its isomorphic accent and decent was ended on the edge of the wall upon which the spine split along the seem and the pages ripped out, flipping them this way and that. Ms. Aerin Pithe-Bot leapt into the air and rejoiced for that worthless pile of pretentious, onanistic literary showmanship was finally destroyed and never to be held together and bound in that loose collection of words, sentences and paragraphs that could vaguely pass off as a “book”. She waltzed over to the wreckage of loose pages, pages that were covered in otiose verbiage and unnecessary bold and capitalizations, and when she hovered over them, she cackled at the wreckage beneath her. She began to undo her trousers. When she had slid her panties down her thigh to knee-length, she squatted over the remains and took a hot steamy piss on the pile of pages, finally feeling vindicated for those several hours she would never have back, all that time her eyes wasted on some three-hundred-plus pages of literary pomo decay. She urinated for a whole forty-five seconds until her bladder was completely empty, and she rictus-face pushed out a few last drops. Although to any reasonable person, her work was done and her personal angst was blood-letted (piss-letted to be exact), there had to be further recompense for the literary sins that had been committed by the novel. She made a move for her silver MacBook Pro (full 15 inch with bonus retina display, affordable prices starting as low as $2000 american!) and opened up the one website that would ever listen to her literary-philippics and diarrheic diatribes with an audience that was actually willing to stomach such sacrilege and praise her for it: Goodreads (set up a free account instantly and you can share your books with ALL of your friends today!). She set out on to construct a masterpiece, a review to end all reviews that would assure that not a single person would ever read A Postmortem Malaise ever in their lifetimes. Her expectations were high—as if she were to embark upon the quest of quests, the adventure of all adventures. The world would know of her upmost frustrations and she would strip the emperor naked and whip his bare, pale ass in front of the entire community. There would be laughter, tears and applause and most of all votes—more than anything else she craved those votes, the validation of all her hard work, the approval she craved for having suffered such extremes from her reading experience, one which she could not believe that anyone else could ever have enjoyed; she checked a few of the five star reviews left on the homepage of A Postmortem Malaise and scoffed, plebeians, the whole lot of them; she left snarky comments on them all and felt slightly more satisfied. POSTMODERNISM!—she exclaimed to no one. What a complete waste it was, the overlong, verbose sentences, the excruciating glean of self-consciousness that glimmered from every single damn word. If the author—always a white male, she lamented—wasn’t some first-world, privileged, self-possessed, narcissistic head-trip he wouldn’t be a postmodern writer, now would he? They were so damn clever with all their esoteric jargon, genteelistic use of words, encyclopedic-dumping paragraphs, and lofty, self-aware conceits—wouldn’t they spare the world from all those “five-dollar” uses of vocabulary and cringe-inducing masturbatory literary gimmicks? But how could she convey such bitter resentment that was burning through her whole body, that steamed in her solar plexus and boiled in her basal ganglia? Only a lofty postmodern gimmick in her own review would fit the bill, only by subjecting her readers to the same pain that she had just gone through would she be able to comment on such meta-fictive narratives¹. She decided that she would fulfill this great undertaking by writing about a person who is writing a review and within this review there she would spill all her pent up bile about such literary gimmicks that are vapid and substance-less. The first thing she had to do was get rid of her absurd and improbable name—Ms. Aerin Pithe-Bot. She did not know what kind of last name Pithe-Bot was and never had a good answer when anyone asked her what it meant. Thus she decided to scramble up the letters of her name and use that as the primary character in her review—a trick she once heard about through the supposed “godfather” of postmodernism, that tedious, clever-as-all-hell, multilingual piece of literary smegma, Vladimir Nabokov. She rearranged the letters of Ms. Aerin Pithe-Bot into Stephen Mirabito—a strange, absurd last name, but that was all the letters she had left; what, was it supposed to be Japanese or something? She decided that of all the post-modern literary gimmicks she could adopt, she could not for the life of her adopt the style of long-rambling sentences a la Pynchon, Wallace, or McElroy because even that would degrade her very soul and come across as way too lofty and high-brow. No, she had to remain in that minimalist, fifth-grader style that she clung to so dearly, the one that her favorite writer of all time codified and stamped upon the literary world forever after, Ernest Hemingway. With all her ideas in place, she set out on the adventure. She began to write her review:

It was very late and the boy had finished the book. The street outside was dusty in the day but it was the night so the dust had settled. There was a pale light from the moon still. The boy closed the book and felt its smooth cover. He admired the cover for its black and white design but he could not admire the story inside. The boy was named Stephen Mirabito. Stephen could not get any purchase on the story’s emotion if there existed an emotion at all. The story was too much about itself and it made such a fuss over itself it could not communicate anything true. Stephen felt the need to tell people about the book. He felt the need to express, the need to sit at his typewriter and bleed. He rolled up the sleeves of his overshirt and set the typewriter atop his desk. He knew who his audience would be: his friends he had made on the website Goodreads. There were many good men and women there. He could provide viewpoints that they would appreciate. Perhaps he could he even learn something about writing. He could learn how to communicate a harsh truth with some honest, clean prose. The first thing he had to do though was write for his class. He had been given the task to write a book report for high school english class. He knew it would be hard work. He would have to write many drafts because his first draft, like all first drafts, would be shit. He would have to write in a way that would be engaging and fun. He would have to make it worthwhile for his audience. He began to write:


I went to the online store Lulu, in order to buy my friend’s book A Postmodern Belch. There was a lot of people talking about the book lately and had set off a string of quirky parodies. Goodreads is a website that I like. I like the reviews on goodreads. Most of the people there are nice and it is a place that I enjoy a lot. However, sometimes the things on there become less about reading and more about getting votes. I don’t think that this is a bad thing necessarily but there are a few reasons why this might be bad.

First, I think that reading is fun and a lot of people use the internet though. Because more people are using the internet they are spending less time reading real books. Reading books is a good thing and so less people should be on the internet.

Secondly, when people spend all their time writing long reviews that are supposed to be funny or have something smart in it. Are we reading to write or are we reading to read. That is the important question that we are faced with when using the internet.

Third, while there are things that I like about this book, I was not sure it was about anything. Are books supposed to be about something? I think this is also an important question. Sometimes books write and sometimes books have things in them. Since I still enjoy books that just write, is that okay?

For all these reasons I think that it is important to see why A Postmodern Belch is a good book but there are things that are problems with it and with the internet. Posmodernism can be a fun thing like something that would look good on a poster in my room. But sometimes it is just a waste of a reader’s time.


Prof. Jimmy Jones Johnson on writing about Postmodernism

The first thing that I tell all my students is this: when writing about postmodernism, please resist the urge to emulate the style in which they write. Remember, our job as critics of literature is to weave coherent sense into that which has been rendered senseless. The writers that I have already outlined in this book, have all done considerable work in fracturing our reality and fracturing the preconceived notions of writing. Please, do not fracture that which is already fractured. It is akin attempting to fix a broken glass bottle by stepping on it and breaking it further! Do not break the glass. Fuse it. Combine it. Bring together the narrative sense of the a novel by continuing to write in a way that will————————————————————
and never by any means will you @&&@&@&***@&&@*@& and make sure to never———or you will be doomed to repeat repeat repeat repeat repeat repeat repeat repeat repeat repeat repeat repeat repeat repeat repeat repeat repeat repeat repeat repeat repeat repeat repeat repeat repeat repeat repeat repeat repeat repeat repeat repeat repeat repeat repeat repeat repeat repeat repeat repeat repeat repeat repeat repeat repeat repeat repeat repeat repeat repeat repeat repeat repeat repeat repeat repeat repeat repeat repeat repeat repeat repeat repeat repeat repeat repeat repeat repeat repeat repeat repeat repeat repeat repeat repeat repeat repeat repeat repeat repeat repeat repeat repeat

Ms. Pithe Bot, the original author of this steaming pile of crapola, would like to make sure that you, the reader, have been sufficiently inundated with the point of this review. In case Ms. Pithe-Bot has not sufficiently hammered the point home, I will now explain to you what this is all about. I know that this might be frustrating because we, as human beings with consciousness that yearns for completed resolution and answers to questions and resolving things that are set up—which gives ample justification for most religious, philosophical, and scientific inquiry and the reason why we, as those conscious rational creatures (as Aristotle would have it) engage in such pursuits—thus it will b frustrating when you have to be dragged through so many words and wonder what is the point? Is there a point? That is the question that I think we all ask ourselves while reading any novel. This is a valid query, for without a discernible point to something, why divulge your time into it? However, this author, Ms. Pithe Bot would like to remind you that what we take to be something with a “point” is that which coheres to a set of socially-constructed and vaguely structuralist notions with which we have been trained ever since our first Michael Bay movie, that we have an implicit set of expectations that inform the way in which we criticize things. Thus when we are forced to undergo such excursions into the literary unknown we are beset by our subconscious commitments to


The actual real author of this review, me, Stephen M. would like to heartily apologize for this entire thing, including the weak apologia that has just been given to you. Please understand that no amount of justification is good enough to account for what has just been written. I have to apologize even further for dragging you through all this and that certainly, any charm, humor, or comedy within this review, however thoroughly soaked in irony and cleverness, has all but worn off. Please do not feel too enraged at me. And be nice to me in the comments but MAKE SURE TO GIVE ME LIKES. PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE.

Every time you give Stephen M. a (like), he gets more happy.


¹About which it should be noted that footnotes would be a necessary addition to such a review, for what postmodern literary man since David Foster Wallace can resist the use of the footnote? It’s the simplest way to give all the information needed without distracting from the main focus of the review. See, with a footnote, the author can alleviate any kind of caveat that is needed in her review and not be worried about taking the review off in some crazy other tangent that has nothing to do with the review itself but just some random thing that the author felt necessary for you to know. It should help by not wasting any of the reader’s time, which the author acknowledges as precious and valuable and would hate to waste on the explication of another one of her techniques, which the author is almost 100% absolutely sure that reader has no time or patience for.
Profile Image for Arthur Graham.
Author 72 books654 followers
September 28, 2015
334 pages of pure drivel that I enjoyed tremendously from start to finish. Nicholls may be one of the most self-conscious writers I've ever read, but that's not to say I imagine him flexing his scrawny muscles in the bathroom mirror, wincing at his pale, pustular reflection as he compulsively combs his ever-thinning hair like some present-day Prufrock personified. Rather, he is self-conscious in the sense that he seems to understand his worth as a writer, which can ultimately be boiled down to the worth of his/her fiction, which can be boiled down to less than nothing several times over in skilled enough hands, paradoxically proving its value by its increasingly evident lack thereof.

See, Nicholls does the kind of meta that meta-meta and meta-meta-meta are too afraid to touch, and by that I mean his fiction is about fiction and the infinitely recursive fictions those fictions are based upon, which is really just a fancy way of saying that he winds up arriving at the truth (or the closest thing to it) by hardcore LYING about EVERYTHING along the way. You don't need to deconstruct his words or the worlds he builds from them because he is all too happy demolishing these himself, restructuring his narratives on the fly, holding things together by continuously breaking them apart just to see what they'll do next.

Also, he does it in a way that is simultaneously show-offy and self-deprecating, outlandish yet ordinary, a tall order for any writer no matter what their pomo chops. And to think that he wrote this when he was just a lad! Would love to read something he composed after growing hair on his nuts, but then I might be even more jealous than I already am.
223 reviews193 followers
November 11, 2012
First off, I have to disclose a conflict of interest here: I am full of gooey, mushy, warm treacle coloured feelings for MJ, ever since he waved his electronic penis at me in the first minute after I joined GR a year ago and stumbled on his Italo Calvino ‘if on a winter night a traveller....’review, which, may I say, is a classic and ought to be required reading for all GRers. The comments thread there is also a hoot, and not least because it was there that MJ first fell in love with my back breasts (as I was shoppin’ at Lidl an’ all), and first called me a ‘chav’. As you can imagine, after that, I fell hook line and sinker (I mean, who can resist a compliment like that, eh, eh?), (plus, just look at how cute he is, aawww) and soon after I dubbed him my GR toyboy. (I’m not sure he has formally agreed to this title, but as I am still on his friends list, I can only surmise he secretly luurves it! Oh yeah). (Btw GR sugar daddy position still open...). So, my point is, I am super biased.

Now that the formalities are done and dusted, lets on to the Belch, people. All my life, I’ve been playing corporate bingo with the phrase ‘its not rocket science, you know’..., and you know what I mean, cause you’ve heard it, fess up. Things these days are not rocket science, til we get to MJ’s book. I think I needed both my BA AND my MBA working in tandem, for the first time, in a real life situation, to work this baby out. This is definitely not a book for the faint of heart. This is a full blown noggin muscle workout, and I defy anyone to read this at a singl(ish) sitting fayre and not emerge with the mother of all headaches. I feel a little grindered, as I twisted and turned through a maze of exponential and logarithmic PoMo. Nothing is linear in the rabbit hole: we’re up and down in realities faster than a whore’s knickers and the pace only picks up halfway through. At around the page 160 mark all rules are verboten and it becomes a free for all: writing techniques converge in a one pot massala and the shit hits the fan: quite frankly, I no longer know if I’m coming or going. Thats kinda OK though, because I’m the type of person who goes to the buffet table and piles the food on indiscriminately: curry on top of beef bouginion on top of tabouleh: why not? Yum. So, this soufflé of hither thither doesn’t faze me: but I think the trick is to just go along for the ride and not ask any questions.

So, the summup: this is never going to appeal to the mainstream, but its quirky, its imaginative and its a helluva ride. And I’m not just saying that because I adore MJ. (or maybe I am....)
Profile Image for Manny.
Author 30 books14k followers
September 25, 2014
"Well, Manny," said Manny, "You've finished the book. Now obviously you want to post a review? Here, I've got a few all made up. Just say which one you like best. How about this? 'A dazzling tour de force that masterfully pays homage to Joyce, Pynchon and Sterne, while simultaneously deconstructing-'"

"Bollocks," said Manny without even waiting for the conclusion.

The rest of this review is available elsewhere (the location cannot be given for Goodreads policy reasons)
Profile Image for Megha.
79 reviews1,092 followers
December 19, 2012

Samuel Beckett wrote a play in which nothing happens, twice. MJ Nicholls wrote a novel in which nothing happens, four times. The novel instantly created ripples in literary circles and many a scholars have already written dissertations on this work. Out of jealousy, some forgotten author is said to have started a rumor that Nicholls locked up her three children - Greg, Lydia and Harold - in a matchbox and made them write the novel for her. To avoid any unpleasant questions regarding this controversy, the author has refused to speak to any interviewers other than herself.

A Postmodern Belch is a novel where novel writing conventions go to die. This book will be nothing like you have read before. It will not turn out to be the novel you expect it to be. It's ingenious in more ways than you think. And it comes with MJ-brand sense of humor.

Best read in small doses.
Profile Image for Gail Winfree.
Author 4 books47 followers
February 27, 2014
I’ve just finished reading MJ Nicholls’ “A Postmodern Belch” and still trying to figure out what I’ve read. This is a book with an attitude. Actually, it’s a book with many attitudes. It’s a book that’s been around since before the beginning of time and keeps appearing in infinite versions, all with attitudes.

At first, it might seem that the author is out of control; but in fact, he is in complete control. The thing is we don’t know who the author is, nor what he/she is in control of. Could the author be Lydia, Greg (with one or two Gs?), Harold. And what about Nai Niknar or Nicholls himself? Only the narrator knows for sure, but which narrator?

This is satiric postmodern metafiction at its best. I would recommend it, but the problem is I don’t know anybody (of my friends) who would ever read this, much less understand it. I’m anxious to read other versions of this book as it recreates itself.

The book reviews itself, so I won’t bother. I gave it 4 stars instead of 5 because I felt like the language sounded forced at times (I skipped over the big ugly words I didn’t understand and it still made sense). I believe, though, that “A Postmodern Belch” is as good as the best metafiction being written today.

MJ Nicholls is a talented young writer whose work deserves more exposure.
Profile Image for Oliver Katz.
1 review2 followers
January 9, 2013
I knew the author MJ Nicholls for a brief and regrettable period in Edinburgh (2004-2007). He spent his undergraduate degree leching after pretties with his unwashed hair and line in barely mumbled Wildecisms: “Hey. Like The Velvet Underground? Like Sonic Youth? Like inarticulate plebs from backwater shitholes who wash twice a year?”
I was a Jewish gayster from London who could speak English and had no interest in social alienation and self-loathing. Our one point of convergence was postmodern authors: I had read Elkin, Pynchon and Vonnegut, he pretended to have read Georges Perec.
He told me his plans to write an updated Lanark set in Edinburgh. His writing was criminally overdone: a noxious attempt to combine Gray’s straightforward storytelling with the lexical range of Will Self. I put him in his place at the writers’ workshop, he never listened.
In time, MJ (or “Mark” as he as styled himself) learned to communicate with other humans. His writing moved from pitiful copycatting to violent satire to selfconscious skitmaking. A Postmodern Belch was written three years after we parted company, and... things went wrong.
To write something quite so selfconscious suggests a mind painfully tormented by public opinion. Most likely, when MJ Nicholls walks down the street, he checks his hair in car windows, questions his friends as to his physical state every few minutes, follows up each sentence with: “How did that sound?” Like he did back then.
I couldn’t finish this hall-of-mirrors-within-hall-of-mirrors farce. But I was surprised at how fucking funny, how confidently plotted this nihilistic anti-non-novel was. Impressed, even. As I closed it on p200, I almost considered paying MJ an unpatronising compliment and nod of encouragement to keep writing. But I didn’t. I have a reputation to maintain.
Your chum,
Profile Image for Nate D.
1,595 reviews1,029 followers
Shelved as 'read-in-2012'
November 8, 2012
Was this tirelessly self-conscious and self-destructing novel designed to drive the reader into revolt? It anticipates such, at least, as a crowd of Readers actually put in a late appearance to complain (capping earlier complaints from several different authors).

There have by now been postmodern deconstructions of essentially every element of writing and storytelling, but less effort has been expended on deconstructing the idea of postmodern deconstruction. This is, then, an exhausting exhaustion of seemingly every narrative possibility outside of actually engaging in a plot line. In this way the novel resembles Lettrism's attack on modern art in the 50s -- by driving avant-garde approaches to their most extreme limits as quickly as possible (ie, poetry consisting of a single letter), the Lettrists sought to push art into such a terminal region that further development would be impossible without restoring the basic traits of any given medium and building back up from there. A cultural reset, perhaps. This book has some of that quality, though of course it hasn't reached that entirely terminal point yet, and is still far more readable than a single-letter poem (and indeed, despite the reader-revolt, actually expends quite a lot of effort to continuously engage and amuse).

I was going to say something snarky about the book I was going to write that push literature further into final deconstruction/dissolution, but part of the magic of literature is that event faced with a book as bonkers as this one, there's still scads of open room for more broken constructions that could nonetheless still divert and provoke effectively. Well, maybe if I began writing entire novels of unreadable gibberish, but then Borges has already explored that possibility -- and imbued it somehow with poignancy and meaning -- in the "Library of Babel".



Exhibit A:
A Postmodern Belch. I am writing it as a self-indulgent exercise in distracting postmodern bullshit.

Exhibit B:
I do not know what true love is just pain through my writing I tell many true life events like one, time my fellow gang member friend was almost killed for protecting a pregnant women who was being hit in her stomach by other gang members at a party.

This is not a quotation from MJ Nicholls' self-published novel A Postmodern Belch, this is a quotation from a sheaf of papers, headed "Troubled Times", that was thrust under my vision on the subway this morning while reading Nicholls' novel, an invitation to other self-published writings available online. This has never happened to me before; I'm certain that MJ has somehow orchestrated it for extra-novel dramatic effect. (In order to be sure that he is not orchestrating my entire life, I have inserted the preceding semi-colon. If you can still see it there, it means that I'm still the author of my own narrative. Or that MJ is a cagey bastard fully capable of submerging his semi-colon-avoidance instincts in order to write wool over my eyes.)

Exhibit C:
Also included in the text were several self-penned reviews of the novel:
The novel seems to set out to expose the hollow experimentalism of post-modernist fiction. However, through an overflow of self-conscious asides, direct references to the author and her intentions, characters whose sole motive is to spar with the author about what elements of her own persona she has instilled into them, this is little more than a highly conceptualized, vainly realized exercise in gross self-indulgence.

Exhibit D: "self-indulgence as its own sticky reward" (quoting or paraphrasing something half-remembered in regards to the multiple references to self-indulgence appearing within).

I have not yet read At Swim Two Birds, Mulligan Stew, or the Flight of Icarus, but I am reading this. If this is the most annoying novel ever written, then why I am I enjoying it?


Epilogue: Has anyone read all of this novel? I have. Even the mail-away additions. In just two days of over-long public transit (track fire, blizzard, general unexplained lethargy). I feel lucky to have made it through this experience with some proportion of my sanity intact. Or... or... do I only think I've escaped? Am I still in these pages? Lost forever? Wandering, a character in search of development among the labyrinthine pages of A Postmodern Belch version #3,349,974, rewrite #23, 3rd edition? Are none of us ever free of this book? Ever...? Oh wait, yes we are.
Profile Image for Zadignose.
254 reviews154 followers
May 22, 2015
This book sets out to be--and succeeds in being--the most self-conscious novel going. It is principally a work of humor, while it tackles some of the challenges and dilemmas that postmodern writing raises. The author has a knack for the humorous venting of spleen. While he is entertaining us, one gets the impression that he has some sincere bitterness towards *both* the cynical commercialization of art *and* empty psuedo-art frippery, and thus he satirizes both while simultaneously struggling to find where his own ambitions lie. For surely he, and his creation--and his characters too, and their creations--all have literary aesthetics as their raison d'être. Well, that's what you get when you're born into a world where Raymond Queneau and Firesign Theater have stolen your thunder before you were born: you do your durndest to *make bigger thunder*.

Self-awareness is taken to the nth-degree, where 'n' equals a very large number. (Okay, seven. Maybe not a staggering number in itself.)

And speaking of numbers, how about "ninety-eight billion, three-hundred and forty-one million, eight-hundred and forty-sixty-twelvety thousand and one one two twee fifety...........one one one one kazubillion"? Now that's quite a number, wouldn't you say?

It is chock-full-o' cycled, modified, permuted elements... digressive elements... divergent narratives... where "narratives" can be defined as teasers which fizzle, end abruptly, or disintegrate into absurdity.

One of the central questions the novel asks is this, Does having no narrative (or no narrative continuity) set one entirely free to write anything, or does it constrain one to writing nothing of substance at all? The dilemma of a self-conscious novel in which everything is tentative, reality is nominal, events are without consequence, is that the means to engage the reader are limited to humor of the gag/one-liner variety, shock/provocation, and inviting the reader to examine the writers' dilemma as a theme--i.e. invite empathy for the difficulty of extracting meaning from meaningless, where the literary terrain is not conducive to meaningful expression. Compounding this dilemma and pushing it to the fore is the fact that the author is aware of the dilemma that frames his effort--and so are his characters. The author has identified with the characters to the degree that they are he, and together they become entangled in deeper levels and iterations of the same dilemma.

If I wanted to be lazy, I could probably invite this book to criticize itself, but then the review would be too harsh, as the book has a great deal of fun at its own expense. The author-book persistently, starting from page one, engages in preemptive self-criticism. And he-it (she) doesn't stop there, but rather also engages in preemptive cricism of pre-emptive criticism as a technique:

"...any criticisms you have of your writing you put them in the book... which is a lazy, technique, frankly."

The novel puts its thumb in your eye... then in someone else's eye... in everyone's eye... and then in more private places. And then it uses its dick.

It crosses ALL lines, and when it offends, it takes offense at its own offensiveness. E.g., RE: child molesting, the novel criticizes its own stance thus: "(an issue this author has treated with a certain unpleasant degree of ironic mockery)".

The novel does toy around with the question of whether a novel requires an audience, but as for this novel, it has no use for you... whereas you may very well have use for it as it surely provokes both thought and laughter... which I suppose are the kinds of things you like to get from a book. I definitely enjoyed it.
Profile Image for Greg.
9 reviews5 followers
November 9, 2012
I am the most important character in this novel, A Postmodern Belch. I gave this novel three stars for the bits I am in because I was always taught by my folksies to be modest, and because, quite honestly, I do not have the imaginative capacity for values greater than three. My name is Greg and in this novel I play a character (funnily enough!) named Greg who finds himself embroiled in many larks with two other characters, Lydia and Harold. Since starring as the most important character in A Postmodern Belch I have not found any other roles in fictional works. No one has any use for my managerial and trans-managerial and pan-trans-managerial skills in the bookplace. If anyone out there is writing a new novel entitled A Postmodern Belch, please consider me for a role. I will not question the Author’s decisions like Lydia or Harold, I will be obedient to the agenda and can even add my own commentaries to whatever social issues are being tickled. In the meantime, feed me by reading me in A Postmodern Belch. I am Greg. I do not exist. Hello!

Update: After serious a rethink and delightful poem written by the kur-ah-zee character Ferdinand Anna Nathan Nicholls I have decided to bestow a lavish five whoppers on this disagreeable monstrosity, lest any other non-readers creep out of the woodwork with their callous one-star plops and hurt Greg in his pride!
Profile Image for Matt.
752 reviews533 followers
December 28, 2015
PLEASE NOT: This non-review of A Postmodern Belch refers to the edition with the Imbecilic Supererogatory Belch Number (ISBN) 9781291980349 (nine trillion, seven hundred eighty-one billion, two hundred ninety-one million, nine hundred eighty thousand, three hundred and seven-square). Published: 173 days ago by The Estate of Lydia Dutch. Edition language: English (sort of). Mass: 560 grams. Dimensions: 15.24 centimeters by 22.86 centimeters by 334 pages. Paperback with adhesive binding. Color: black and white.

To read A Postmodern Belch[#3] feels a little like rope jumping with your pants pulled down juggling half a dozen raw eggs with an elephant sitting on your shoulders (albeit a small one), wearing stiletto boots and standing on the wings of a jet-plane taking off, while at the same time trying to memorize the words of A Postmodern Belch in ɹǝpɹo ǝsɹǝʌǝɹ.

It's tricky.

To review A Postmodern Belch or any meta-fictional narrative[#1] that matters for that matter is notoriously hard for me, because sooner or later I will inevitably fall into the same old trap and start to metarize my own, that is, this review as well. See what I mean?

Zzere's one concept[#2] in A Postmodern Belch zzat made me zzink - more zzan a little - and I like to convey zze chain-of-zzoughts[#4] I had on zzis intriguing subject. It's zze Überbook zzat one of zze characters[#5] is trying to write.

Überbook? – Überbuch
Buch (bu­chen – Bu­chen – Bäu­me – Bu­chung – ü­ber Bu­chung – Ü­ber­bu­chung – flie­gen (Flie­gen – ü­ber Flie­gen – Flie­gen ü­ber Flie­gen (Flie­gen­flü­gel – Flie­gen­flü­gel flie­gen auch – Flie­gen­flü­gel flü­geln – Flie­gen­flü­gel flö­gen)) Flie­gen flö­gen ü­ber Bü­cher – ü­ber­flie­gen (Flie­gen ü­ber­flie­gen Flie­gen – Flie­gen ü­ber Bü­cher – Bü­cher ü­ber Flie­gen (Bü­cher ü­ber Vö­gel – Vö­gel flie­gen – Vö­gel vö­geln – Vö­gel vö­geln statt zu flie­gen) Bü­cher ü­ber­flie­gen – flie­gen Flie­gen ü­ber Bü­cher? – Flie­gen flie­gen ü­ber Ü­ber­bü­cher! – Flie­gen ü­ber­flie­gen Ü­ber­büch­er – Ü­ber­bü­cher ü­ber­flie­gen – Ü­ber­büch­er ü­ber­flie­gen B­üch­er – Ü­ber­bü­cher ü­ber­flü­geln Bü­cher))
Bü­cher – ü­ber Bü­cher (re­den – Leu­te re­den – Leu­te re­den, re­den, re­den – Leu­te re­den ü­ber Leu­te – Leu­te re­den ü­ber Bü­cher (Bü­cher re­den ü­ber Leu­te) Leu­te re­den ü­ber Fliegen – Leu­te re­den ü­bers Fliegen – Leu­te re­den ü­ber Vö­gel – Leu­te re­den ü­bers Vö­geln – Bü­cher ü­bers Vö­geln – Ü­ber­bü­cher ü­bers Vö­geln – Leu­te le­ben – Leu­te lie­ben (Leu­te lie­ben Bü­cher – Leu­te lie­ben Ü­ber­bü­cher [Lü­dia[#6] liebt Ü­ber­bü­cher]) Leu­te lü­gen (Leu­te lü­gen einst wie heu­te – Leu­te lü­gen ü­ber Bü­cher) Leu­te ü­ber­re­den Bü­cher – Leu­te ü­ber­re­den Leu­te – Leu­te ü­ber­re­den Leu­te, Ü­ber­bü­cher sie zu lie­ben [na ja])
Buch­sta­ben – Bü­cher­sta­ben (Bü­cher star­ben – Bü­cher ster­ben) Wör­ter ha­ben Buch­sta­ben – Bü­cher ha­ben Wör­ter – Wör­ter hab­en Macht – Bü­cher ha­ben Macht – ha­ben Bü­cher Ü­ber­macht? – Leu­te le­sen Wör­ter – Leu­te lesen Bü­cher (Leu­te lesen lei­se Bü­cher – lei­se Leu­te lesen Bü­cher – lei­se le­sen Leu­te Bü­cher – Leu­te lesen lau­te Bü­cher – Leu­te le­sen lau­ter Bü­cher – lau­ter Leu­te le­sen Bü­cher – lau­te­re Leu­te le­sen Bü­cher – er­lauch­te Leu­te le­sen Ü­ber­bü­cher) Leu­te lä­sen Bü­cher – Leu­te ha­ben Macht (Leu­te stre­ben an die Macht – Leu­te ster­ben an der Macht – Leu­te star­ben an der Macht) Bü­cher star­ben an der Macht – Wör­ter star­ben an der Macht (Wör­ter star­ben an ih­rer Macht) – Buch­sta­ben star­ben an der Macht —


Now, at this point I suddenly found a way to save our world and end all wars immediatley, forever, and for good.

Alas, the phone rang on the other line. It was me, the old carpet dealer McCall – best known from glossy magazines – People, Life, and Time – – interrupting this review to offer me trade samples of carpet flooring in fifty shades of grey. I belched and hung up on me, but the train of thoughts had left the station and I forget about everything. So sorry, World!

Et cetera. Et cetera.

meanwhile in a far away corner of our galaxy...

BASHIR: Spontaneous development of aphasia is virtually impossible. Yet we saw Lieutenant Dax become aphasic before our eyes. This told me we are dealing with a disease that only mimics aphasia. So I ran a full neurosynaptic comparison of Dax and O'Brien, and I found this in the temporal lobes of both patients:

SISKO: A virus?
BASHIR: It imposes itself within the established synaptic pathways and then randomly reroutes them. For example, when I look at this, (holds up a tricorder) a process occurs in my brain which connects the stimulus to the word "tricorder". This virus disrupts that process.
SISKO: I'd see a tricorder but I would say something ridiculous like "window".
BASHIR: Exactly.
JABARA: Doctor, I think you should get over here.
CREWWOMAN: Night, the flow trade again.
CREWMAN: View lost pile luck. Away tunnel back the garden.
SISKO: Doctor, I want this station put under emergency quarantine immediately.
BASHIR: Yes, sir.


PS: Before this little postmortem burp of a review can end I'm supposed to award this book with stars. What will it be? I don't know. Pick yourself, dear readers:

rated for use of foul language and profanity, depictions of violence, and sexual content (nudge-nudge, wink-wink[#7]).
[#1] This term doesn't apply to the narrative[#1] of A Postmodern Belch. I only use it faute de mieux.
[#2] This term doesn't apply to the narrative[#1] of A Postmodern Belch. The reviewer only uses it faute de mieux.
[#3] Not to be confused with the ancient forms of belching, whose secrets were being passed from father to son as part of their oral tradition.
[#4] This section is written in Deutsch — just like my Gedanken —, and cannot be übersetzt werden, without making Sinn (or losing Unsinn).
[#5] This term doesn't apply to the narrative[#1] of A Postmodern Belch. Matt only used it faute de mieux.
[#6] Also spelled Lydia, or Greg, or Harold; definitely a non-character in this non-review of the non-novel.
[#7] See page 262 and believe it (or don't): I wrote this before I read this. ALL POWER TO MONTHY PYTHON
[#8] _______________________________________ (this footnote at your disposal)

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Profile Image for midnightfaerie.
1,982 reviews121 followers
August 17, 2013
Postmodern is defined as noting or pertaining to architecture of the late 20th century, appearing in the 1960s, that consciously uses complex forms, fantasy, and allusions to historic styles, in contrast to the austere forms and emphasis on utility of standard modern architecture. Allusions is the word that sticks out most to me. I have never read anything like this sort of book in my entire life. I have to be honest and say, I had a difficult time following it. But my overall opinion would probably be it has a beautiful sort of satiric brilliance interlaced with tediousness. The visceral beauty of it alone stands out like none other than I've ever read. It's the sort of book you'll either love or hate or both at the same time. I'm afraid that's not as descriptive as some would like, but it's the best I can do.

I've noticed that others have struggled to review this as well, most likely because the author gives preconceived notions of the multitude of ways people will review it, so the reviewer has no choice but to give into these assumptions or try (in vain) to still be original. I've noticed some reviewers have tried to copy the style of writing in their reviews, almost to the point of comedy. No one really pulls it off as well as Nicholls does in his own self-deprecating way. The fact that he went on for 334 pages is astounding and somewhat admirable. But I can offer no concrete description of this book, other than to say it's about some characters with a book, within a book, within a book, I think. And my creativity for reviewing it stops at the point where the reader is told it's impossible to be original in my review, and so I won't even try. I will just point out some areas that stood out for me.

First of all, I actually liked the diversion of different styles of writing and charting. Going from pages with columns to charts to epistolary form, to outline form and so on, broke up some of the tediousness for me and helped me stay engaged, when I would have otherwise tried to rip my eyeballs out. I also enjoyed some of the imagery. I won't go into great detail here, but there's a particular scene which makes me think of a line from the movie Heathers, when the football players says "Sit and spin". It was very graphic and I won't be getting that picture out of my head for a long time, thank you for that M.J. Nicholls. I sound sarcastic here but honestly, I really did enjoy a lot of it. A good portion of it had me laughing out loud so that I had to explain to my husband what I was laughing at.

Some of the writing was reminiscent of a type of humor that made me think of a Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy. Here's such a statement that shows the parts of writing that I really enjoyed...

"Right. So you're calling from a phone booth?"
"No, I bought a phone after our meeting yesterday. A mobile one. I'm phoning you now from outside a phone booth."

I love that sort of thing and highlighted several passages of that throughout the book.

This is also the first time I wasn't able to finish the book, but not for lack of trying. There was one sentence that I could not read, no matter how hard I tried. Granted, it was a foot note, but even after pulling out my son's science kit and digging out his magnifying glass, I could not read the last half of the final sentence in the footnote on page on 282, because it was too small. Seriously, how does one get the font that small? It annoyed me greatly, only because I kept feeling like I was missing some great point and perhaps if only I could read the rest of this sentence I might be enlightened.

Then there was the maze at the beginning of A Postmodern Belch: Master Version #126, 727, 828: Un Roman Par Lydia Dutch. I could not, in good conscience turn the page until I got out my pencil to see if it was in fact a real maze and whether or not I could get through it. I did, but not without stopping a few times and turning back after hitting a dead end. I also loved the invitation to complete some of my own dialogue on page 264, and thought I had rather a knack for coming up with some interesting interludes such as: "Can I get out of here at all?" My response being: "Not if your dill pickle dipped in peanut butter would say otherwise!"

I did love the idea of citing helpful websites to further the reader's enjoyment, but was sorely disappointed when I found many of them to be non-existent. Perhaps being a programmer, I thought if it had been me, I would have bought a few domains and maybe set up a few of these sites to expound on the idea, but then, it might not be so easy for non-developer types. I really wanted a few items from www.usefriggingdevices.com. I did love www.theether.com and even became very beneficial when I stumbled across panic panties.

In the end, I found the book highly original and very oblique. I recommend this piece of art to anyone who prides themselves on being at a dinner party and being able to not only cite obscure references to books but also to be able to be the one in a crowd to say "I read that!" when obviously no one else within a hundred mile radius had read such a book, but they'll all feel like just a little less of a person for missing out. So much so, that they feel the need to immediately run out and purchase said book so they can feel a part of the crowd and never feel left out again. This book is only for the very intelligent and highly motivated. It will be going on my architecture shelf. Thank you, M.J. for allowing me to experience this novel!

7 reviews
October 23, 2012
A Nephronimous Botch.

As Artaud claimed in 1923, "we are born, we live, we die in an environment of lies" - but factual inaccuracies are another matter. Of course one cannot expect every fiction writer to have a working knowledge, especially one that has biology in it. Neither, though, would one anticipate such flagrant exhibition of this lack. It could be argued that the author, insofar as his fairyland makes no attempt to adhere to reality, has waived his responsibility to the laws governing the physical world. However, were this a valid assertion, would Nicholls not advance his own biological system (complete with grotesque appellations), rather than resorting to the jargonic* posturing so prevalent in this work? If the facts will be ignored, why make any reference to DNA et al at all?
A prime example is that of 'glomerulus': its appeal to Nicholls as a word is palpable, visceral in the sense of viscera, predictable in the sense of asinine gropings at unsubtle humour. In fact he could almost have invented it himself. On page 226 appears the phrase "...who shambled through my glomerulus"; on page 270, similarly, "the thought of her glomerulus". Both of these usages implicitly assume the glomerulus's status as a singular organ or part of an organ in the body, in the same way as one might refer to "my liver" or "her prostate". In fact they exist in great numbers in the body - within nephrons, of which there are approximately 2 million per 2-kidneyed person, and in their thousands in the olfactory bulb - so there is no circumstance in which the aforementioned formulations can be correct (the plural is, of course, glomeruli).
Then, on page 333, a wealth of misconceptions. Firstly the implied constancy of only 3 DNA lineages (that of Greg, Harold and Lydia) across generations, let alone the entire history of humankind, is a hugely reductivist view: 100-200 spontaneous mutations occur in the genome of every human child. Complete conservation of the DNA sequence is impossible - ultimately the system is fallible and variation is inevitable.
I will not even comment on the notion of DNA conferring personality traits, archetypal as those advanced by the author may be.
Next: "It is also a mistake to assume that Lydias are solely women. Although the best Lydias are to be found in X-chromosomes...". This can be read as a sad unconsciousness of the fact that human males too have an X-chromosome; the alternative interpretation is that the author believes female organisms in possession of 2 X-chromosomes have twice as much of the lovely X-chromosome gene products as males. This is not the case: a few weeks into embryonic development, each cell in a female switches off one of its X-chromosomes at random, so the organism functions as if it only had one per cell. Surely this renders it illogical indeed that the best Lydias are women, certainly with the justification the author presents - another explanation is possible, naturally.
To end with another quotation: Canetti once wrote "I find mute knowledge dangerous" - by contrast cacophonous ignorance may only be a mild irritation, but it is one I feel bound to guard against, within my field of relative expertise at least.
Otherwise a good fun read.

*pertaining to the mineral jargon, of course, rather than the perhaps more immediately plausible 'jargonistic'.
Profile Image for Geoff.
444 reviews1,234 followers
Want to read
March 30, 2013
Sonovabitch. I just laid down actual money for this. We'll see what shows up in a week or two. I might just find an oversize package sitting on my front porch one day, and out'll jump a lithe, quick-tongued Scot demanding room and board gratis. He'll rifle through my things, don my suits, diddle my women, eat my food, leave trails of crumbs and bottles and torn pages from my books about the house, and then be gone like a ghost. I just know it. Nothin' for it but to Waldo Jeffers the lad before the damage can be done.

Profile Image for David Lentz.
Author 17 books313 followers
September 2, 2016
I am tempted to attempt a non-review of this non-novel but the book is just too good and I don't want to be misunderstood of dealing frivolously with a major literary contribution by a young novelist who has shown real flashes of genius in an early novel. I also would advise readers that, if you haven't read much of the post-modern novelists, then you may want to read a few from the 1960's or later, and then read this novel thereafter. Nicholls has a few postmodern names to drop, including Pynchon, Amis, Heller, Nabokov, Ellison and Vonnegut: otherwise, this break-through novel is most unlikely to resonate for you and you simply won't get it. Nicholls also harks back to novelists before the post-modern era in Dostoyeski and Joyce. If you have read the brooding, self-conscious and ego-centric work of the post-moderns, then this satirical novel will keep you laughing for days. Nicholls skillfully deconstructs the novels and the novelists of the post-modern era boldly begging the question as to whether it isn't time to move onto a new school of literature with a less contrived, moody and downbeat worldview. (May I offer the Pixilist or 4D Movement?) Nicholls' satire has effectively sounded the death knell of the post-moderns, gifted and erudite though they clearly are. Nicholls draws nearly every literary convention used by post-modernists in their narratives and renders them effectively outrageous through his hilarious, Swiftian satire. In so doing Nicholls becomes the Dionysus in Nietzsche's "Birth of Tragedy" by which I mean the spirit of dance, wine and song to contrast the Apollo of the post-moderns seeking a heavy, intellectual, self-conscious, egomaniacal, ponderous, weighty, grim ethos in a pity party which has endured now for more than a half-century which is perhaps longer than any literary movement should ever linger. Nicholls is "breaking the old tablets" in order that the new ones can be written. His style is brilliantly witty almost beyond belief -- not meant as hyperbole -- with dozens of laugh out-loud moments: not just "ha-ha-ha-ha" moments but Oscar Wilde caliber wit, which enables one to see the post-moderns in a new light. The only other group of writers attacked more aggressively are the commercial hacks of our day who write for the money without seeking even to pretend to offer works of artistic merit. When one is suffering in silence and poverty in order genuinely to offer a true literary contribution, nothing pisses off a literary novelist more than such prevalent literary pandering: this is our literary culture, people -- our paltry legacy to mankind. "Postmodern Belch" radiates literary merit by brilliantly turning the genre upside down and inside out to give readers a one-of-a-kind perspective from a great, young, self-deprecating novelist. I just finished reading "Henry Miller on Writing" which I would urge other writers to study well as Miller confessed that in his first years of living in dire poverty in New York and Paris, and after trying for seven years unsuccessfully to publish anything worthwhile that he felt completely "annihilated" by his writing. But it was in the depth of his annihilation in Paris that he discovered his own voice and, once he did so, his writing almost became like taking dictation and Miller went on to become immortal as an American novelist. "Postmodern Belch" is so radically inventive that Nicholls can expect to leave most new readers confused, disoriented and puzzled in the same way in which Beckett left his early audiences confounded after "Waiting for Godot" and "Endgame." There are times when the perspective is so revolutionary, radically unexpected and incisively wrought that it will be met with harsh skepticism. However, this public puzzlement is also the mark of high talent, innovation, intellect, vision and even genius, which may lead to a shift of course and grateful acceptance of new perspectives desperately needed to refresh the lifeblood in this case of the genre of the literary novel. Because the literary novelist is a young Dionysus, the novel on occasion goes well over the top in the same way that for me the writing of Rabelais becomes excessive. Fortunately, as Nietzsche also once wrote, "The road of excess leads to the palace of wisdom." There were a number of places in this novel where it could benefit from wise editing where conceits were simply taken too far and well beyond the valued insight of the initial conceit and when even the most liberal of good taste would suffer the counsel of a modicum of restraint or discipline. However, it's understood that Nicholls wears the mask of Zarathustra who offers literary lightness in satire and wit to contrast against the pedantic, heavy, literary fare served up so often by the post-moderns. Nonetheless, there were times for me when the writing was just too over the top, which left me wondering if Nicholls would stop at nothing to make his point. There really are appropriate times in sculpting a work of art when a well-placed chisel works better than a jackhammer: the writer may do better simply to give the audience some credit for their high intelligence for reading his or her novel, which Nicholls does, and then move on. Sometimes the moments of quietude or silence enable the music to inform the listener better. Nicholls is relentless in pulling out all the stops and the net effect is that the reader gains a novel packed densely with vigorously expressed narrative shining a white-hot light and provoking new thinking which offers a sentiment that the writer has delivered a great deal of intellectual value for the reader's investment of time and money. The challenge for Nicholls is where to go next. Does he seek to edit and improve upon this early literary venture? Or does he take all that he learned from "Postmodern Belch" and create a new masterpiece? Sorry about this, dear Goodreaders, but this vast audience in the millions can and should buy the books of new authors of genius. So do what is right to improve what is left of our literary culture, even such as it is, and BUY THIS BOOK. Then read and criticize it constructively. Otherwise, you have no one but yourself to criticize for the constant pap masquerading as literary culture which global commercial publishers are belching out for public readership. This book is not yet a masterpiece but it is without question on my short list among the most inventive, innovative, literary novels that I've ever read. Most importantly, Nicholls has shown ample evidence in the brilliant wit of this early novel that he is fully capable of producing literary masterpieces. What more could you ask?
Profile Image for Craig Stone.
Author 4 books1,660 followers
April 12, 2015
This is the kind of book publishing companies pretend they print.

A Post Modern Belch deserves massive recognition as a work of complete brilliance. A book about every book ever written that doesn't need to resort to dirty tactics like linear storytelling and A + B = C. You don’t need to have a history degree on literature, you don’t need to have read every book penned to understand it – you just need to have an imagination and a sense of humour. In a nutshell, it’s a book where the author loses control over his characters, they rebel against his power to govern their lives and leave his book to write their own books so they can live in freedom. But then they don’t want to be in each other’s books. And the entire thing gets entirely, most beautifully, out of hand. I think to intellectualize it too much would almost be a disservice to the complete and utter fun of the entire thing. From start to end it’s a creative master show. An entire empire of literary suns. The fact this book hasn’t been picked up a major publishing house honestly fills me with dread. This book should be a must read for any young adult looking to become an author. Teach it in schools, put it on the syllabus.

There are authors and there are writers. Writers put words on paper. Authors put their soul into something. And although A Post Modern Belch is a funny and original riot from start to finish, there is no doubt in my mind that M J Nicholls is a rare breed. He is an author. This might not be the book that breaks him, because the publishing industry is a pile of wank mostly run by failed authors looking to publish anything that sounds like themselves. Which this book certainly won’t do. But, should Mr. Nicholls put his imagination into a bog standard story, it will surely stand out as remarkable.

A Post Modern Belch is genuinely brilliant. If you have an imagination (you do) then you should read it (you should). If you think you don’t have an imagination (you do) then you should read it as a matter of great urgency (you really should).

The world is a brighter place because of books like this, and authors like M J Nicholls.

"That's all I have to say about that." ~ Forrest Gump.
Profile Image for notgettingenough .
1,032 reviews1,187 followers
November 4, 2012
Written after reading part of the first sentence. I was incited to do so. The stars are a combination of hearsay and my expectation of the capabilities of MJ. I am Scottish in my use of stars - that is, they may be free, but that is no reason to be extravangant with them - and hence my praise may be regarded as lavish.

A conversation which might have taken place with J. an autistic person of forthright opinions, the precise delivery of which is completely predictable.

J: Why did you make me read that sentence, Cathy? Why did you, why did you make me read that, Cathy? Why? Cathy, why did you make me read it? Why, Cathy, WHY? Why did you –

This line of interrogation by J. being repeated over and over perhaps a hundred times.

Me: Because I wanted to know what you thought of it.

J: It is fat and silly.

A Scottish person is writing to the Department of the Dole, he is Bill Paterson, and you hear the incomparable Bill with his best dour disapproving accent reading to himself as he writes:

Dear Sir.

While I am sure the DD has made the correct decision in financing the writing career of Mr MJ Nichols, one cannot help observing that his style is fat and silly. Are you paying him too much? Might you consider demoting him for a period to a YA allowance? Perhaps a period of time in that genre – as I believe it is called – will teach him to pare down to the essentials. It could pay off for him and you in the long run.

Yours, etc.
4 reviews5 followers
March 10, 2013
Meimaimy! Insideline-ordured, homode-livered Rattengift of lizard Gaul has been delilloaid! A Billoddy Ferroviadellostato-Minoan was disc-uffa!-dead a phew! daze après in the Lab Oraldulbloodytory Saltpetre dishme a redou[b]t handout, non non merci.

A peer-oh-die not dice of Alles vraivieux and not tritely nice and latexed to Wry Ding! A Ding A Ling!! - autistych hoar, car racksters, themes mimes and thomes oh groan no grown!, readers thin weeders, p[r]o[d]t-users, the [f]actoetummy of Writhing it and Self and Every Thing ever writed or readed, ficalicktion or non-friction what falls low might foll-OW!

Daemonstraits a beed bonninnit abowt the acaendemic stud, Yes! of literars inveniendi Türen; what is constrooed and aaahhed as literartsioui and/or what is not to be, alas poor Your and Ickickisnide; the come mercirilllyreally i sayhuns! of booknookooks; the desenscypolariaekneest hetup I SAYSHUNS! and the intellinsidechewaal dimmingnution of read...er..sszzzzzzzzzz; the impomoravagings of ryters (who whine for an Aw! Die and Ents, that aurience is only Loro and silly elves, gremlins and gobsmackedlins and munchkins and Rumpelstiltschens and thereforewheretofore the ball-and-cockatrice call-my-bane-no-brain that dillydallies from their Nex in Sir Vice to their aural refectories stifflesmis what they might fight great australopithecus bight opine and dine on right - qualifiefiefieonu a writer as a rider well fuck me! unless to exe-cute the me-tricK of numb and ergh! of books sold); the struck here and gold dentures there by witch white whores are found and bound - hacking cough cuff in only won diamondshone; the FX of techno and λογία on the exspededition of Being a writereader; and the Die Luge of words simchip plywood pasted wasted:

...all together now
one two three and
here we go,
try to lift it,
couldn't even shi(f)t it...

as Pyrodiss of or premens' and Hi men!'s true-all tension to Lite Rapriprupture.

A Hall eats Oats awt to be nowt to see unrequisited red=love matting and aeryal for Lit Ratte Ire Star Dies degradrees, an outtagerage against the time hath nomadman machoine, no matterhorn slice show much 'struth might be ConTiki Rikki Tavi stained thereininthereoutroundabout, Caps-itall-ism being Scheiße, content so readme Ava Maria able (love me, luv me, say that you knead me, drug me, dragged me, gimme summa cumma lauda soma!), those indievolved in the investyourbikkiexcreamyent of the commie/capi/bustyurgutbuggerBurger and disretribution of Conned and Tenets will be immobilisiert et indiffère.

This Hubbahubbabubble burst weeds like a flammellating Emmanuel of ωx = { 0, r ωxL | s ωxR } schale, a kwillthrust in the Beh! Wacholder's I from which if heshe recc uva passata, roll in the clover...zzzz....Bücher ex libris will jamais dans ma vie bumble in Sekt applespearspine the shameus heaney again.

Toowhittoowoo phallicupendulous to swallowchoke the writer's tooth as Mistfeemale. On the andere mano agander gender gain gen gn, the recursive isso iterative the snake has ars meditativa it inserted self and reappeared as its own tunguent.
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for Sean DeLauder.
Author 9 books123 followers
Want to read
January 21, 2013
I'm not sure what I feel about this book other than I feel it very strongly. If I am ever capable of parsing the genuine from the false, either in the content of the book or of these reviews, it will confirm with some certainty that the final thread tying me to my sanity has at last frayed and broken. I suspect this is precisely what the author intended.
November 8, 2012
Epitaph on an Inquirent

Direction, of a kind, was what he was after,
And the books that he wrote were easy to understand
He knew Gilbert Golly like the back of his hand,
And was greatly interested in barmy elites;
When he laughed, suggestible monitors burst with laughter,
And when he cried, the little children chased him through streets.
Profile Image for Squeasel.
67 reviews46 followers
January 29, 2015
3.5 rounded up because:

a) it finally ended (or did it?) YES, I'm saying it did, because I read all the gr reviews before the book, and I'm not going to count any possible (probable?) dialogues in my own mind as extra material (available here at $29.99 per..) No. I will drown them with alcohol. And then I will burn them. with fire.

b) alcohol. for some reason not related to this book I thought it might be interesting/healthful/beneficial to ... take a break from this substance (and perhaps others) for a few days soon after starting the book. Those few days proved an alcohol-less existence absolutely incongruous to continued progress with this book (or any others, to be fair) and also incongruous with an existence not punctuated with probable ludicrously feeble attempts to end it without even arch attempts at humor or DFW references. (This is water? I'm NOT A FISH! I can't breathe this shit! and neither, apparently, could you) This leads, (away from the sad! away!) eventually, alcohol-wise at least to

c) At Swim-Two-Birds -- could my problem finishing/tolerating this (A S-T-B) book so far be that I was STONE COLD SOBER while reading it? (should I "whilst"?) MJ Nicholls, you god amongst Harolds, have you inadvertently shown me the key to my shameful No I keep putting the book down No despite myself I can't finish No I must No I love books No for the last time Nein I cried No for shame No! problem I have with that Joyce guy as well? hmmmmm... Reading the classic Irish WHILST SPIFFLICATED. No. it couldn't be that simple. Could it?

(it DID work for watching Leaving Las Vegas...)

(also, this is not to say that I mistake M.J.Nicholls for Irish, just that this book and A S-T-B had some similarities)

(re-reading my comments on my progress aka review of A S-T-B, I now realize I was somehow channeling Lydia, in some warp of the time-space continuum, without realizing. And also, i have the strange feeling that the author of A.P-M.B might in some odd Lydia-fanboying way envy/covet/? that A S-T-B review, were he aware of it? Really not sure here, just an unsettling side-track of thought.)

d) I've enjoyed reading GR reviews written by this writer, and throughout A Postmodern Belch had fun envisioning a book in which Rikki Ducornet replaces Lydia (my phone autocorrects "Lydia" as "Jesus" Hmmm) and "M.J.", whoever that character is, must interact with her face to face, real-time.
Profile Image for Peter Hayes.
49 reviews2 followers
July 3, 2017
Great imaginative novel (or non-novel yes yes yes ok) that smashes Pynchon and Vonnegut and others in the balls while at the same time slapping them on the butt affectionately. Or maybe that was all in my mind, who knows. Great book nonetheless.
Profile Image for Ned Rifle.
36 reviews33 followers
Want to read
January 8, 2013
Reminded me a lot of Henry Miller.
Oh, mistakenly said i had finished this, rather i found extended reading on a screen nigh on impossible. Would have to see it as a book to have a chance.
Profile Image for Yolande .
3 reviews1 follower
December 11, 2017
Review of PM Belch


I am one of the readers of this book not authored by the author. I think he criticised his own novel to the extent that anything else is drowned out, which I feel was the point. My favourite character is no one because this novel does not have a tangible concept of character, which again, is the point, yet strangely this makes them unforgettable. Now I'll always be thinking of Lydia, Gregg and Harrold; thanks for that whoever the real author is. My theory is Lydia Dutch took over MJ's body and wrote this.

It is the most intensely expressed anti-novel I have ever read, and since I have not read enough postmodern or post-postmodern fiction in this vein to compare to others, that's that. There might be influences of the author's often mentioned Marvin Amiss, Silbert Grapentino and perhaps some Will Elf? I have only read one book of Will Elf but have not come across the other authors, so can't say. This review is influenced by the PM Belch; well done Niknar… (You genius author of popular fiction you) and makes no sense, in the same way that there is no sense to the novel's multiple endings. Also, it doesn't actually end. Ok.


Edit: I just want to add that the amount of made-up insults in this novel is astonishing and can be collected for any occasion.
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