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Page from a Cold Island (Vintage contemporaries) [Kindle Edition]

Frederick Exley
3.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)

Kindle Price: $9.99
Sold by: Random House LLC

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Book Description

The death of Edmund Wilson precipitates an odyssey through the distorted literary landscape of America in search of Wilson's essence as the pre-eminent man of letters and the author's own creative wellsprings


Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Exley's "sort-of-sequel" to A Fan's Notes "is also a freewheeling, highly fictionalized memoir . . . brilliant in its handling of a surprising welter of surfaces, funny and disturbing," observed PW , adding that "some will hate this, some will rave."
Copyright 1988 Reed Business Information, Inc.

Product Details

  • File Size: 1697 KB
  • Print Length: 274 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage (November 2, 2011)
  • Sold by: Random House LLC
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B0060AY90G
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #622,543 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

3.4 out of 5 stars
(5)
3.4 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Exley's Under-Rated Gem March 15, 2007
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I came to Pages from a Cold Island as a long-standing fan of Exley's A Fans Notes, and given the sometimes dismissive reviews of this book, frankly i did'nt expect much. Needless to say, I was pleasantly surprised.

I first read A Fans Notes way back in the 70's, and it was, at that time, my favorite American novel. Recently, to see how it stood up over time and a much more critical reading, I reread it and found it as engaging and thought provoking as I remember it. it is truly a classic. As such, i decided to read Pages From A Cold Island, which has, over the years, come to be dismissed as an interesting side note but not much else, which is surprising as it was generally greeted upon publication with positive reviews. Jonathan Yardley, Exley's biographer, dismisses both this and Exley's third and last novel, Last Notes From Home, as footnotes to A Fan's Notes.

I think the brilliance of A Fans Notes obscures what would otherwise be considered a very good - not great - work. I found it engaging in the same ways A Fan's notes is; tightly structured, thoughtfully written, humorous and thought-provoking. The thematic device of structuring the book around Edmund Wilson's life and death works in much the same way Frank Gifford's life works in A Fans Notes - Exley is ultimately writing about himself whether he discusses Gifford or Wilson, and what we learn about Exley in this second volume of his autobiographical trilogy is as entertaining and insightful as anything else he's written.

Maybe Exley could have pared it down just a little - the last third of the book, which deals with Wilson's death, at times lags, but really not in such a sustained way that it distracts from the essential interest of the book.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A worthy follow-up to a quirky classic May 19, 2005
Format:Hardcover
It was only a few months ago that I even first heard about Frederick Exley, and his wonderful novel A FAN'S NOTES. After breezing through that novel, enjoying every extravagance of language, plumbing the depths of Exley's experience in bars, insane asylums, and the Polo Grounds, I was more than a little curious about his other two novels.

PAGES FROM A COLD ISLAND is a strong, mature, worthy follow-up to A FAN'S NOTES. I've numerous reviews claiming otherwise, but as one reader, I found COLD ISLAND picked up where NOTES left off, artistically, as well as chronologically.

If anything, I found COLD ISLAND more balanced, giving more of a historical context of the story, as Exley relates his experience interviewing Gloria Steinem, and comments on the Vietnam war. At times NOTES seemed to hover nowhere in time, whereas COLD ISLAND is more firmly rooted into contemporary America.

Overall, Exley's verbosity and sense of humor are every bit as incisive and affecting as in NOTES. Exley does go off on tangents that were probably only of interest to him. The sections on Edmund Wilson were interesting, but far too long, too detailed, and offered far too little pay-off.

But on the whole, COLD ISLAND measures up to NOTES quite well, if not surpassing it in certain respects. Exley's name-dropping and experience as a noted, if not bestselling, author are of particular interest, bringing his search for fame in NOTES full circle, and finding that he remained an outsider; Earl Exley's son hunched at the bar watching football.

--Matthew St. Amand [...]
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Exley's worst January 31, 2010
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
In case you don't know, Frederick Exley is famous for one very special book, and it ain't this one. (It's A Fan's Notes, still widely available.)

THIS book, the second of the three autobiographical memoirs he wrote, is largely junk. I myself like it because I like Exley's voice and way with words, but I must admit that there's little to recommend here. The narrative covers the years from the time "A Fan's Notes" was published (1968) till about the time this was published (1975).

If you're writing about or studying "A Fan's Notes," though, reading this might be useful to you, since, at least for me, "A Fan's Notes" was so stunningly excellent that it was difficult to pinpoint exactly what was so powerful and affecting about it. But reading this book sure helped my clarify my thinking:

1. In "A Fan's Notes," Exley was a master of characterization. There are so many characters there that are so well-drawn that you feel like you knew them yourself: Bunny, Bumpo, Mr. Blue, the U.S.S. Deborah, Frank Gifford, etc. But, despite apparently not lacking for material, Exley just flits from character to character here without really fleshing anybody out or making them burn in your mind. It's almost as if Exley wasn't aware of what an excellent job at characterization he had done in "A Fan's Notes."

2. It may not have seemed obvious when you were reading it, but "A Fan's Notes" had coherent, well-developed themes: the inability to measure up, the meaning of fame, the sinister side of the American dream.
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