Misfit: The Strange Life of Frederick Exley

Frederick Exley was at once unique and prototypical He inhabited his own bizarre universe and obeyed no rules except his own, yet he was a familiar and characteristic American literary type an author whose reputation rests on a single book His life, which he described, and disguised, and distorted in all three of his books, rivaled his fiction Everything he did involFrederick Exley was at once unique and prototypical He inhabited his own bizarre universe and obeyed no rules except his own, yet he was a familiar and characteristic American literary type an author whose reputation rests on a single book His life, which he described, and disguised, and distorted in all three of his books, rivaled his fiction Everything he did involved a struggle, and the most important struggle of his life was his writing out of that strife came A Fan s Notes, which Jonathan Yardley believes is one of the best books of our time Exley was an alcoholic who drank in copious amounts, yet he always sobered up when he was ready to write In his younger days he did time in a couple of mental institutions, which imposed involuntary discipline on him and helped him start to write He was personally and financially irresponsible he had no credit cards, no permanent address, and ambiguous relationships with everyone he knew yet people loved him and took care of him No matter where he was, in the dark of night he phoned friends and subjected them to interminable monologues To many, these were a nuisance and an imposition, but later, in the light of day, they were remembered with affection and gratitude In Misfit, the Pulitzer Prize winning book critic of The Washington Post portrays in full one of the most tormented, distinctive, and talented writers of the post war years Exley s story, which in Yardley s telling reads as if it were a novel, reveals a singular personality raunchy, vulgar, self centered, and even infantile, yet also loyal, self deprecating, and unfailingly humorous to s Lockridge, and even Ralph Ellison is profiled by the Pulitzer Prize winning book critic of The Washington Post Exley was an alcoholic who quit drinking when he wrote, and a man who spent time in a mental hospital He was indeed a misfit, but one who left an indelible impression on those who knew him or read his works.
Misfit The Strange Life of Frederick Exley Frederick Exley was at once unique and prototypical He inhabited his own bizarre universe and obeyed no rules except his own yet he was a familiar and characteristic American literary type an author

  • Title: Misfit: The Strange Life of Frederick Exley
  • Author: Jonathan Yardley
  • ISBN: 9780679439493
  • Page: 230
  • Format: Hardcover
  • 1 thought on “Misfit: The Strange Life of Frederick Exley”

    1. Well of course I read this book many years ago. I had been waiting for someone to write about Frederick Exley's life after having fallen head over heels for Exley's fictional memoir, "A Fan's Notes", a book about love and alcoholism, fame, the literary life, and even football. When you're twenty-two and just starting to realize you want to be a writer, you can painfully identify with Exley, who made himself the protagonist of "A Fan's Notes." The book became somewhat of a cult classic over the [...]

    2. I was actually late to the Fan's Notes fan club, having first met Exley in the pages of Rolling Stone. I actually like his other books more than Yardley does, though they're certainly not in the same league as FE's 1968 cult classic. Ultimately, one's appreciation for this book depends upon one's tolerance for peripatetic fuck-ups, serial adulterers, unapologetic spongers, absentee parents, unrepentent misogynists, urine-stained alcoholics, and all around unheroic, flame-out figures. Apparently, [...]

    3. I have to say that Fredrick Exley’s trilogy (the semi-autobiographical novels: A Fan’s Notes, Letters From A Cold Island, Last Notes From Home) made a strong impression on me as undergraduate. So I thought Jonathan Yardley’s biography, Misfit: The Strange Life of Frederick Exley, would prove illuminating and entertaining. My reaction was mixed. It provided some interesting biographical information as well as some interesting anecdotes, but it also portrays him as a narcissist, selfish with [...]

    4. Yardley is a facile and accomplished writer, and 'Misfit' breezes by without a hitch. Unfortunately the conclusion that Exley was a "misfit" serves mainly to reinforce popular misconceptions of him, and to undermine the value of his work. Exley was an alcoholic, we know. And he was apparently anti-social, too (except at the bar). But so were many great American writers of the 20th century, for better or worse. Exley was, most importantly, a gifted stylist who redefined point of view and sensibil [...]

    5. It's a fascinating story of a strange, outrageous man with a germ of brilliance and an inability to extend its range. I read A Fan's Notes, which, of course, led me to what would appear to be an unlikely bio of a mostly undistinguished member of literature's one-shot wonders. Exley couldn't live his own life or describe anyone else's.

    6. Good biography of Exley that goes well with fan's notes. The only flaw is that it seems to rely awful heavy on the writing and doesn't have enough detail, observations or interviews with people who knew Exley. Would have liked more insight into his extremely complex and disturbing character.

    7. Surprisingly dull and devoid of detail or information. Yardley has a thesis: Exley was a misfit and a one-book writer, and rarely deviates.

    8. Yardley is a solid biographer, and the subject is a favorite writer of mine, but holy Christ is the second half of this book depressing.

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