Last Notes from Home

Frederick Exley, Author Random House (NY) $18.95 (397p) ISBN 978-0-394-40519-3
Exley's friends and lovers seemingly put up with his alcoholism and pill-popping, his raunchy sexual bragging, his cheerful contempt for those closest to himbut readers of this autobiographical novel may lose patience with his bleary-eyed, disconnected soliloquy. This disappointing sequel to his popular Pages from a Cold Island is third in a trio of fictional memoirs begun with A Fan's Notes ; portions of it ran in Rolling Stone. The adventure starts with the author/protagonist/narrator's trip to Hawaii to visit his embittered brother Bill, ``the Brigadier,'' dying of cancer at age 46. Soon we're awash in memories, fantasies and guiltthe time Exley shot his sister for squealing on him; his release from football anxieties through fellatio with Cass McIntyre, who later died of anorexia; his romance with an airline stewardess 20 years his junior. Permeating the story is the question of whether ``the Brigadier,'' as an army spy in Vietnam, helped set up the My Lai massacre. The subtext of this macho, expansive monologue is the corruption of the American dream via Watergate, Vietnam, racism, greed. We've heard it all before. The patches of sharp, subversive writing might breathe if the book had been cut by half. (September)
Reviewed on: 08/05/1988
Release date: 08/01/1988
Paperback - 397 pages - 978-0-679-72456-8
Open Ebook - 253 pages - 978-0-307-80073-2
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