The first first novel of the season with an unquestionable dynamism, Frederick Exley's is ""autobiographical,"" a form which permits the writer to stay closer to life while surfacing more freely above conventional disciplines. If a referral is to be made, as no doubt it will, to Frank Conroy's Stop-Time, Conroy is the finer writer but deals with more casual, fissionable material. Exley's is the stronger book, a documentary of experience exposed, sometimes assessed, and often numbingly (a recurrent word) intensified. In Glacial Falls, upstate New York where he is teaching, life begins again for Exley as it does every Sunday in a bar, with the amber allure of the bottle just before the Giants' game flashes on the screen. His father had been a great football player and had heard the roar of the crowd; Exley's fate is to only be a fan, an intransigent truth he reaches only many drinks, many years later. This then follows him through long, lost intervals in and out of a New York hospital for the insane; a summer in Chicago and his first, incomplete ""season of love""; his assaults against the real world of making a living and failing to accept its responsibilities; his marriage to uncomplaining if un-understanding Patience, protected by her money; and through a whole series of wild flights with some randy, rummy characters-Bumpy and The Counselor and Mr. Blue. Finally, all these crippling dreams and grandiose fantasies end with the acceptance of ""life's hard fact of famelessness."" But then as Lawrence said, ""the quick of all time is the instant."" Exley's book has many instants, many moments. It is unmistakably vital and reads obsessively, obliteratingly.