Scott's Reviews > Exley

Exley by Brock Clarke
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Sep 02, 2010

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Read in September, 2010

Brock Clarke almost pulls off a neat trick in this novel, about a precocious ten-year-old boy (our highly unreliable narrator) who is convinced that his estranged father has joined the army, been shipped to Iraq, and is now down the street dying in the VA hospital. The only way he can saved his dad? Find Frederick Exley, real-life author of A Fan's Notes, the book by which his father lived his life, down to only speaking sentences that appeared in the classic memoir/novel hybrid. Which I have never read (or forgot), and since so much of Brock Clarke's Exley is a direct homage A Fan's Notes, I often wondered hoe my experience here with this book might have different if I had read that book. Anyway, there are many good, small moments here, and Clarke does a nice job of skewing real life, and the way real people would act, just weirdly enough to keep me off-balance and uncertain where we were going, and eager to get there. Unfortunately, the pay-off doesn't really do justice to build up, and the mysteries revealed are far less interesting than when the mysteries were still, um, mysterious. Be interesting to see what he tries next.
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