A Fan's Notes Paperback – Aug 12 1988
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Frederick Exley recounts his life as the son of a hero-worshipped high school athlete who is doomed to be a spectator not only of sports, but of life. From irresponsible drifter, to dreamer of impossible dreams, to drunkard, to frequent patient at an insane asylum, Exley carried baggage from his childhood through much of his adult life, never feeling he could escape the dark cloud of expectation that hung over him. When Frank Gifford, former New York Giants backfield star, is injured, Exley is jolted into painful realizations about his life, and a confession.
"A Fan's Notes is one man's life written with brilliance and insight. No one should have had Exley's life, and no one who has read it can forget it" -- James Dickey "Writers of every kind of aesthetic and cultural persuasion talk about it and press it on their friends. When I urge it on a friend who asks what it is about or what it is like, I say read it, just read it" -- Geoffrey Wolff "Astonishing... It is visceral and intimate. Self-absorbed, it is also searingly perceptive about what happens between fathers and sons, men and women" Independent --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.See all Product Description
Top Customer Reviews
A Fan's Notes is savagely funny and honest, delightfully written, and shockingly blunt in its dissection of mainstream American values. The book is what one might call these days "memoir," although in 1968 such a genre wasn't quite clearly recognized, and so people didn't know if the Fred Exley in the book was the "real" Fred Exley who wrote the book. Not that we should care about such trifles as the facts when compelling literature is at stake.
Suffice it to say that Notes is Exley's chilling, charming telling of his alcoholism, his loves and successes and losses, his madness, and his obsession with "winners and losers" in life, among other things. A parade of grotesques move through this book, representations of men and women who all reflect and refract sets of values that Exley flirts with but ultimately cannot engage with. Rather than play the game of the American Dream, he prefers to remain, for the most part, on the outside, taking notes.
Even if Exley wrote only one book his whole life, he should have been happy with A Fan's Notes. Anyone who relishes concise, intelligent, entertaining literature should take notes on Notes. It's truly an amazing book, very personal and very memorable. Another quick Amazon pick I'd like to recommend is The Losers Club by Richard Perez
Exley is my long lost father's contemporary. I cried through the first twenty pages because I thought I was listening to my father think and talk.
Like Exley, my father was not afraid of words and elaborate phrasing. He shared Exley's almost ridiculously extensive vocabulary, using words one would only encounter leafing through a dictionary. He spoke in convoluted phrases that sounded more like written language than speech. My father was a drinker and a caustic critic of conformity. He shared Exley's rejection of everything and Exley's sudden bursts of sentimentality. My father did not want to be a "success," he did not want to be "the family man," he did not want to be the "professional man" he did not want to be anything but a living, slightly drunk refusal of middle class American life. Better self-destruction than compromise in an ugly world. Like Exley, he was not the greatest husband or father. He was too busy trashing his life with his relentless nihilism.
My father was also manic depressive, or as they say today, bipolar. As far as I can tell, Exley is too.
In many ways this book reads as the memoir of a man struck by mental illness. Manic depressives have rapid flights of speech, often using elaborate phrasing and a wide range of words. In manic phases they are known to move from place to place, city to city (Chicago, Colorado, Florida).Read more ›
Most recent customer reviews
This book by Exley is up there with Celine, hovering somewhere around third or fourth for my favorite books ever. Read morePublished on Jan. 15 2008 by Richard
"A Fan's notes" is a blistering, literate critique of the emptiness of the illusory 'American Dream' told through the eyes of one who longed for, yet at the same time recognized... Read morePublished on Dec 12 2002 by Desmond Curran
I read this book after hearing it referred to as great literature somehow intertwined with the worship of Frank Gifford, the former New York Giant. Read morePublished on April 24 2002 by Rick Spell
A miracle that someone could live his life and then write about it - I constantly keep it next to the bed. Read morePublished on Oct. 9 2001
Frederick Exley lived a life exemplary of the alcoholic: infantile, irresponsible, and self-loathing. Read morePublished on Aug. 28 2001
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. Read morePublished on March 31 2001 by Paul McGrath
Jesus, what a book. Exley has written one of the most severe indictments of unfulfilled, unencountered living that I've ever read, short of "The Good Soldier. Read morePublished on Dec 18 2000
One of the greatest and most underrated American Novels ever--if I could write like this, I just might. And after it's written, that's all there is.Published on Aug. 26 2000