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Paperback A Fan's Notes Book

ISBN: 0224059319

ISBN13: 9780224059312

A Fan's Notes

(Book #1 in the A Fan's Notes Series)

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Format: Paperback

Condition: Like New


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Book Overview

This description may be from another edition of this product. This fictional memoir, the first of an autobiographical trilogy, traces a self professed failure's nightmarish decent into the underside of American life and his resurrection to the wisdom that...

Customer Reviews

5 ratings

Now THIS is a good book!!

A Fan's Notes is one of the best books I have ever read. This guy is amazing. Keep a dictionary handy--it's well worth it. Some say this book is more sad than funny. I disagree wholeheartedly. A conventional life is what's sad. Mr. Exley-- drunken sot or not, is beyond eloquent. The writing is beautiful and the story is thought provoking. When I read the last sentence I felt a tangle of strong emotions that I still have not, nor do I care to, unravel. Thank God for people like Frederick Exley. Get rid of what you think you know about living a successful life and just enjoy.

Frank Gifford and the Meaning of Life

A buddy of mine used to give a Christmas party every year that everyone eagerly looked forward to. The reason was that he, more than anyone else, would get outrageously drunk. Standing next to the keg in the garage, tipping back and forth, he would insult everyone who came near him in the vilest, most obscene terms. The rest of us stood out there laughing until our bellies hurt. The beauty of these parties was that the host's getting crazy allowed everyone else to feel a little freer to cut loose themselves. The parties ended up getting very wild and were huge fun. I thought of this while reading A Fan's Notes, not just because the author is an unabashed, morbid alcoholic (although he is), but because he is so many other horrible things as well. In and out of insane asylums; watching soap-operas for days on end while lying on his mother's davenport, eating oreos and masturbating; tormenting his father-in-law; abandoning his wife--that this loser, this crawling degenerate, was able to put together this magnificent, hilarious, scathing piece of literature . . . well, it should give even the most unworthy of us hope that we might be able to do the same. No matter how drunk you got at the Christmas party, the host was always drunker. No matter how irrelevant you may think your life is, Mr. Exley's was way more so. It is a fictionalized memoir, which means that basically he wrote about his life and gave himself the liberty to stretch things here and there. Don't look for a straight-forward, page-turning, sequenced plot here. It is the kind of a book where the author starts to talk about something, which reminds him of something else, which then requires him to go into a lengthy background explanation. He starts his story in the New Parrot Lounge in Watertown, New York, watching the New York Giants on TV. It isn't until page 365--twenty pages before the end of the book--that he finally gets back to this thread. But if you understand this to begin with--that you're not going into some pot-boiler--and allow yourself to be patient, you will be in for a thrilling, profound, and hugely entertaining read. His tale begins with the story of his complex relationship with his father, a football star himself, whom young Exley adored. But his confusion and his his father's apparent dislke of him is never resolved, as his father dies at age 40. From there it's college, and drinking, and home, and drinking, and work, and drinking, and a couple of failed relationships, and drinking, the davenport, and then in and out of the insane asylum three times. His observations throughout all of this are sharp, intelligent, and often wildly funny. He drinks, he says, because he cannot tolerate the clarity of constant sobriety. He fails, he says, because he does not fit in contemporary America. He doesn't like or understand it. Indeed, he loathes it, and in truth, there is much to loathe. Films, television, omnipresent mendacity, pseudo-intellectua

A Wild Ride

Exley died of alcoholism in 1992 at the age of 63. Most of his life had been spent living with friends and family members. The only job he apparently ever held was as a high school English teacher for a couple of years. He was an utter failure, an utter misfit in mainstream American life. In fact a recent biography of him by Jonathan Yardley is entitled "Misfit." He wrote this novel as well as fictional memoirs, "Pages from a Cold Island" and "Last Notes from Home." He won several prizes for non-fictional short pieces and journalistic bits, too. This novel is regarded as a cult classic and consists of a picaresque account of Exley's drunken wanderings in and out of a mental institution along with great portrayals of the strange characters he had encountered in his life. He is tortured by the memory of his father, a football hero who died when Exley was a teenager. Unlike his father, Exley is an abysmal failure at everything in life. He is a football fan, fixated on the New York Giants and most particularly, Frank Gifford. In fact therein lies the heart of his big epiphany at the end of the novel. Just as importantly, he has wonderful insights into the torture of becoming a writer and what he went through to get there. The book is just brutally, unbelievably honest. It is most certainly a book for only a small number of readers--those who have something of the misfit in themselves. If you have a bit of that in you, it is an hilarious and rollicking read.

A Classic-but exactly why?

Since I've read this book I've tried several times to sort out just what it is that makes it so compelling. Is it the writing? Is it the story? Or is it the sad fact that this really isn't fiction at all? I believe that the book Exley wrote and the book we are reading are two completely different animals; and that this is what makes "A Fan's Notes" impossible to put down. When we read the book, we're not concerned so much with Frank Gifford as with the man behind the typewriter who truly idolized the Giant halfback. We see the tragedy in Exley's attempts to pawn off his life as humorous fiction; we see through his double-speak and rationalizations. If Exley weren't so tragic in life, this novel would be little more than cute. As such, its genius lies beyond the realm of fiction (indeed, as fiction, it's hardly genius at all) and into the realm of psychology. It's a truly original work but one which may very well have left people laughing at Exley instead of with him. And this is what makes it so remarkable.

A brutally honest book imbued with in-your-face humor.

Fredrick Exley's A Fan's Notes is the ordinary jo's book; it is a man's blunt search for the meaning of life. For him, it is not marriage, children, the perfect house and such. It is fame and glory on an unthinkable level. When that level is unattainable, the reality of ordinariness sets in, an ordinariness that is only assuaged by alcohol, shock treatment, sex, dreaming, verbal vulgarity and sports -- the latter Exley knows very much about. The trials and tribulations that make up Exley's life, and his struggle to comprehend them, makes A Fan's Notes wonderful, compelling and enjoyable reading!
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