Three days off work and I had no time to think; a friend moving, parties, getting a new refrigerator, hockey, football, other duties. Many things were neglected (chief among them: Nanowrimo -- update to come tomorrow). Things may be returning to normal. We'll see.
#38 - "A Fan's Notes" by Frederick Exley (re-read)
I recommended this to the Ski Bum not long ago, citing it as one of my all-time favorites though I hadn't read it since 1998. That reading was by a much younger, disaffected Greg, and one who was going through a rather confusing time in his life -- so when Ski Bum wasn't so enthused by the book, I worried that perhaps I'd romanticized crap.
I didn't. "A Fan's Notes" is still beautiful and painful, and if anything I appreciate it far more now than I did as a younger man. It's Exley's "fictional memoir" of his life -- it's up for debate how much of it was actually true-to-life (his biographer says, basically, all of it) but if even bits of this tale were true, Exley had one hell of a path to walk.
Full of tales of failed marriages and friendships, going in and out of asylums, destructive drinking, "A Fan's Notes" is a chronicle of failure. It's honest on a level I can't conceive-- I think of myself as pretty self-aware, but if I were introspective on Exley's level, I'd be incapacitated by despair. It's brutal.
Doesn't sound very pleasant, does it? And it's not. But it's also captivating, and oh so well-written. Exley's life's battle was to become famous; his entire body of work is this and two sequels (generally far less well-regarded, but I remember them being pretty good -- again, it's been some years), but "A Fan's Notes" alone is enough to justify whatever fame he achieved.
(He also has the coolest author photo ever. Makes me wanna take up smoking.)