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A Fan's Notes Paperback – August 12, 1988
Pierced by the Sun
A gripping tale of murder and redemption by the author of Like Water for Chocolate. Learn More
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Top Customer Reviews
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.Read more ›
Fred Exley's "A Fan's Notes" is a good example of that.
One day, rooting around in the bookstore, I came across Jonathan Yardley's effusive Misfit: The Strange Life of Frederick Exley, and thought, "Exley? Who dat?" Odd, I thought, that there would be an author deserving of such expansive praise, yet of whom I had never heard. I thought I knew everything!
So I went over to the E's and, quickly ascertaining that Exley's reputation rested on this one book (there were two dud sequels), bought it.
What can I say? By this point I've read it -- I think -- 19 times. It helped me do a lot of growing up, and got me through a pretty rough time.
And the lessons it contains! That you can spend your entire life an alcoholic wastrel flopped on the couch, yet if you can pull it all together and put your heart on the page you can get into the Modern Library. That fame is a disease. That putting on a tie and giving things the ol' college try can be in many ways a sickness. That redemption is possible and that suffering and humiliation can lead to wisdom.
The kind of reaction I've had to Exley's book is a reaction I've only had for two or three books in my life. And it's strange: I've never drunk, I deplore football, and I've never been in a mental institution; yet when I read "A Fan's Notes" it's like my future self writing back to me from a wiser, sadder time, warning me about the vanity of earthly achievements and the ambiguity of the good life.Read more ›
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.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Pretentious, repetitive, profane. I'm no prude, but profane to no propose. Too much absurdity.Published 2 months ago by Mark Herr
This one never fails to delight. The only book I've read a dozen times or more. Exley's fictional persona has remained constant since the book's appearance; re-readings at more... Read morePublished 4 months ago by Caught on Film
An often funny and perceptive but overall sad novel of alcoholism and failure. Exley is a master of the English language, and the novel is a great pleasure to read despite the... Read morePublished 9 months ago by Robtles
"A Fan's Notes" is one of the great books penned by an American author of any era. I can't do any better than that. And none of "moods" listed here fit the book. Read morePublished 10 months ago by John S. Asher