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While Exley is a terrific writer, this book is mostly pointless. It’s an egotistical rambling by Exley about what a great writer and drunkard he is while the rest of the establishment is a bunch of phonies (except for Edmund Wilson and Nabokov). While there is a fantastic ~10 page segment near the end about his time as a visiting writing professor at the University of Iowa (and he should have made this the focus of the novel), this diary of Exley’s is really just that, a diary missing almost any...
The problem with memoirs by alcoholics is that they take on this misty, foggy nostalgic note which eventually becomes boring. We all have funny bar stories, and it's fun to imagine yourself sitting at a bar with Exley. I used to live in Alexandria Bay and frequented one of his favorite bars, Bootleggers where he had his own seat by the window to watch the tourists pass. In PFACI Exley drops too many story lines cold, leaving the reader unsatisfied. It's like he ran out of things to say about a
There are two Exleys in this book: the first is the hilarious skewerer of pieties from "A Fan's Notes" who leaves no one safe from his sharp tongue (least of all himself, but Gloria Steinem gets it pretty good, too); the second is the playing-it-straight biographer trying to capture the essence of writer Edmund Wilson. The first of these Exleys is deranged by drink, lust, condescension, insecurity, aimlessness, writer's block, and his own genius, and the second is cautious and surprisingly, almo...
It's perfect it's Exley, even if it seems struggled or spotted its genuine & beautiful. Much as this author sought out the stone house. I'd give an inch to sit at the bar beside him.
I think this is one of the worst books I've ever read, and in being so I love it
My favorite of the Exley books. I'm not ashamed to admit that I can't say why. I figure as long as I don't act like that guy, I'm good to go.
I'm not sure what's with the low rating for this book.... Granted, it isn't quite as great as A Fan's Notes, and is almost too focused on its time (the 70s) to be truly universal, but Exley's still got incredible writing chops! He's still funny, still a lunatic, and he brought me almost to tears in the second to last chapter with the pathos and desperation of his life.
I understand why this volume is not rated as highly as his first book. The long passages dedicated to Wilson can be trying.
Hated it by page 6. Have made it to pg. 30, wincing every few pages, because I've already read everything else the local library has in English.
I re-read this last week. I am a huge Exley fan so take this with a grain of salt. This book seems a bit rushed and way too fame obsessed for me. The hero worship of Edmund Wilson seems misplaced. I read "To the Finland Station" and to be honest was a little underwhelmed. The Gloria Steinem stuff was better as was Exley's dicking around on the eponymous Island and at the Iowa Writer's workshop. But the style, that rapport with language he has, somehow survives all his blackouts and brownouts and...
Not as good as A Fan's Notes - this lacks the manic quality that one has, and relies a bit too heavily on Exley's obsession with Edmund Wilson, who I know next to nothing about (and I've learned the hard way not to trust the obsessive endorsements that writers I admire have for other writers, so I don't think I'll be in any hurry to educate myself on Wilson's works). This isn't bad, it's still funny, and I guess poignant, and Exley still presents himself as a kind of likably infuriating drunken