A Fan’s Notes by Frederick Exley

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And our first question to Joyce, who brought the book to our attention, was: where the hell did you find this book?!?!?!

We were surprised to find ourselves reading a book published in 1969 that a group of dedicated readers like us had never come across before. We all, to varying degrees, admired the writing, but the deep seated hatred of women it expressed shocked us… especially since the cover blurbs were so glowing! “A singularly moving, entertaining, funny book,” according to the New York Times. Newsday called it “The best novel written in the English language since The Great Gatsby.”

Yes, there was humor. Agreed, many well-turned phrases. And the man is brilliant and erudite. But the misogyny! And racism. At some point, we couldn’t get past it. Was it so rampant in 1969 that this expression of it was considered unremarkable? Do only men read this book?

We were touched by his admission near the end that he realized he was doomed to be a spectator when he wanted so badly to be the star performer. But we hoped for further insight into his self-destructive and self-involved way of being.

Glad we are finished. Back to Powell’s it goes.

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