In an effort to avoid sounding as hopeless as I’m feeling right now after The Six Days Of Heartache, I’ve decided to introduce a regular feature on Drunk Jays Fans centred on the literary world of baseball.
At this point in the season, we’ve really been focused on telling other fans that we’re drunker than them, so much so in fact, that we’ve neglected on occasion to inform them that we’re smarter than them as well.
Baseball is the only sport in the world where you’re allowed to be a bit pretentious in your use of imagery even if you don’t have a voice like justice (or like the guy’s from City Confidential). Its elegant complexity and layers of nuance, make baseball as predisposed to description as a lengthened and throbbing purple-headed warrior.
Having written that, the first book up for review has nothing directly to do with baseball (or purple-headed warriors). However, it has everything to do with being a Drunk Jays Fan. “A Fan’s Notes” by Frederick Exley is the thinking dude’s guide to the thinking dude, and not in the fag way either.
The novel, subtitled “A Fictional Memoir” and categorized as fiction, chronicles Exley’s rampant alcoholism and inability to obtain the recognition that he desires. The narrative examines Exley’s despair at being a spectator in sports as well as in life, while dividing the world into two camps: the suffering poet and the cheerful drone.
The story begins in a bar where Exley (pictured) is watching a televised Giants game and throwing himself into fits of passion until he collapses from alcoholic exhaustion. We’re then given a montage of memories: an upstate New York boyhood dominated by a local-hero dad, doomed attempts to make it in the straight world of Manhattan advertising, romantic humiliations at the hands of some major talent and, finally, dreamlike interludes in sadistic mental hospitals.
Along the way, we’re also introduced to more of Exley’s failures in relationships with women, his constant dissatisfaction with his employment and his obsession with Frank Gifford and the New York Giants. Obviously, it’s easy to relate to.
“A Fan’s Notes” is usually available at bookstores in paperback, but, from my own experience, it’s difficult to find in used book stores. Also available is Jonathan Yardley’s biography, “Misfit: The Strange Life Of Frederick Exley.”