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The EXES

3.46 of 5 stars 3.46  ·  rating details  ·  322 ratings  ·  26 reviews
Four ex-lovers/current bandmates jam together amidst today's cutting-egde music scene -- in a fresh, funky novel of love lost and fame gained, by the celebrated author of Spinsters.In a fun-loving twentysomething novel that is certain to be a hit with the Shampoo Planet audience, the "Queen of the Zines" (Wired magazine) presents a hip alternative love story, told from fou ...more
Hardcover, 208 pages
Published July 6th 1998 by Simon & Schuster
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 529)
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Daryl
Hank & Lilly break up after a year-long romantic and sexual relationship. Then they decide to form a band. Lilly names the band The Exes, and decides that the band needs to be made up of former lovers who get along with one another well enough to play together. They need a bass player and drummer who fit the category and find it easier than first thought to find them. This is a great novel about music, forming the band, break-throughs, success, and failure (and the fear of both). It's a wond ...more
Georgina
I found this on a book recommendation list when I was searching for music themed novels, having enjoyed Jennifer Egan's "Welcome to the Goon Squad". This novel is similiarly enjoyable, being written by a female who deeply appreciates music and music culture and has woven these cultural details into a strongly plotted novel. The book is told in four parts, from the perspective of the four band members, sharing details of their inner lives and different history. I'd really like to read other ficti ...more
Daniel
This review originally published in Looking For a Good Book. Rated 4.25 of 5

One of the things that has always interested me about the writing of fiction and the writing of music, is how similar the two are. I've heard authors talk about finding the 'music' in their characters and plot, and composers I've known talk about themes just as fiction writers do and I've been on a search for fiction that reads like music, and music that plays a story like fiction. The latter is easier to find.

Looking at
...more
Alison
I enjoyed this, I've always wanted to be a groupie and in some ways this book gave the insight of following a fledgling band to the point of breakout star status. I loved the gritty descriptions of life on tour, and I loved how even though it's told in probably the least glamorous fashion, I still wanted to be with the group on the road, living the life of a rock star. My only problems with the book was that I thought it was very incomplete, it left many unanswered questions for me, and I hate w ...more
Alice
A quick read about the music scene in Boston in the 90s. It is split into four sections with each one written from the perspective of one of the band members. Their storylines overlap so by the end you have a pretty complete picture.
Jodi
I love rock & roll. I adore Michael Schaub. I love to read. So last month when he listed his five favorite rock & roll novels, I tossed up some heavy metal fingers and shouted “fuck yeah” while I surfed up Amazon and promptly purchased a used copy of Pagan Kennedy’s The Exes.

If you thought throwing all those things I love into one book would be a rock&roll loving booknerd’s nirvana, you would be wrong. The Exes is one of those books that falls firmly in the middle of ‘it’s all right.
...more
Christine
Quick read. Great delve into the minds of four punk rockers.
Stephanie
I bought this book and finished it the same day. It was literally impossible for me to put this book down. The characters in the book are fully realized and I believed every one of them--I could see this band existing, partly because I feel like I know these people. And the way the story advanced through the different character narratives worked for this book--I think the only problem I really have with the book is a compliment: I want more. I want more from Shaz and Walt, especially. But overal ...more
Dan
I don't normally like books that I can say, "that's me, at this point in my life" but I liked this one, and if only for the last section on the drummer. The book starts as a fairly stereotypical hipster account of an up and coming boston band, that hits on quasi stardom. What makes the book extraordinary is the telling of the last account of the story of a broken person, a manic depressive that you can see what makes a brain work and how we can get transformed from a normal happy person, to a pi ...more
Sarah
I first read about Lily in the Seventeen exert "Lily Majors almost famous rock star" I love here in that piece, but much like real people she becomes tiresome and annoying in the book.

********
It was weird rereading this as an adult. More weird to think I read this book for the first time about 15 years ago. I feel that I got a lot more of everyone's life sucks vibe this time and back then it as more of the I want to grow up and move to Boston and be a cool indie chick.
Bill
Loved this the first time I read it, liked it a lot the second time, and couldn't be bothered to finish the third. I suppose that's a pretty good chart of my path down the road from hoping to one day be cool to realizing it ain't gonna happen, since the hipness seemed so very, very forced this time around. Still, Pagan Kennedy writes her characters pretty well, so I still retain some affection for it. Not that that'll keep me from listing my copy on Bookmooch, but still.
Jeanne Bogino
Loved this - I wish I'd written it!
Howard
Nice little rock and roll novel. It's about the relationships as much as the music and the scene, and really shines when it's focused on how it feels to make music with others, and what it feels like when you start to see success in the distance. Each of the four sections in the books is from the perspective of one of the Exes, and the first two are markedly better than the latter two, but still, overall, a satisfying book.
Care
Nov 20, 2008 Care rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Care by: Author rec'd by Citizen Reader
An excellent change of pace from what I've been reading lately - this is fresh, hip, set in Boston, about wannabe rock stars. Character driven and well-played against each other, this novel progresses in plot via 4 case studies of each member of a new band. It was fun to be in their heads and see the different viewpoints, share their fears and dreams.
Jess
Jun 29, 2008 Jess rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: music lovers
Awesome book...about four band-mates, who have all gone out with someone else in the band at one time or another. Goes into each person's back story in detail while still progressing the story of the band itself. It's a really quick read, and it's got some pretty poignant quotes throughout.
Joshua
Good read. Anyone thats ever been in a rock band can relate to one of the four main characters - particularly if you had ever dated your sexy but neurotic lead singer/guitarist and watched that whole cluster fuck blow up in the most spectacularly anticlimactic fashion possible.
Allisonv
Good characters and relationships. Good depiction of the low-rent live music/touring band world. I like that she has a lot of variety in both male and female characters. Tries a little to hard in the dropping hip references arena. Simultaneously fun and a little sad.
Shanna
I was in a music fiction phase and when looking for good books in that genre I ran into this. I wasn't disappointed. It's a good story about a band that's trying to make it and get through touring. I thought it was pretty interesting and fun.
Kacie
During the first few pages I was really worried that this was going to be some awful, crude book. It turned out to be a great story about an indie band trying to make it big. Loved every minute of it.
Bev
Jun 23, 2008 Bev rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: lady beer drinkers
This is a novel about a band. It sticks in my mind because the characters were very well made so they come back to me.
It's kind of like chick lit for chicks who don't care about Prada.
Frank
A short, totally hip and hilariously funny book about a haphazard band consisting of two ailing, haphazard couples. Grimy, endearing, so '90s and totally delicious.
Judy
If you grew up punk rock in the 80s, you'll adore this book. Even if you didn't, you'll probably like it tons. She's a great writer and I'm glad I read it.
Krista Liebrum
Love swittched and gone a muck. When exas start a band and date other band members...
Golda
Another great novel of a 90s indie band, from each memeber's point of view.
Sira
I've always wanted to like Pagan Kennedy more than I actually do.
Angie
Fun for a beach-type read.
Kathryn
Kathryn marked it as to-read
Aug 24, 2015
Lola
Lola marked it as to-read
Aug 27, 2015
Vix
Vix added it
Aug 09, 2015
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Pagan Kennedy, who took her first writing workshop at The Writer's Center (see profile in the winter Carousel), is the author of ten books in a variety of genres - from cultural history to biography to the novel. A regular contributor to the Boston Globe, she has published articles in dozens of magazines and newspapers, including several sections of The New York Times. A biography titled Black Liv ...more
More about Pagan Kennedy...
The First Man-Made Man: The Story of Two Sex Changes, One Love Affair, and a Twentieth-Century Medical Revolution Confessions of a Memory Eater Spinsters Stripping + Other Stories Zine: How I Spent Six Years of My Life in the Underground and Finally Found Myself-- I Think

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