PAGES FROM A COLD ISLAND by Frederick Exley

PAGES FROM A COLD ISLAND

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KIRKUS REVIEW

This is the second of Mr. Exley's autobiographical trilogy (the first, A Fan's Notes, 1968, will be republished right along side of it and the third may never surface in between drinks) and whereas Notes had more validity -- saying more about not making it and ""life's hard fact of famelessness"" -- this book has mostly been a gleam in the author's eye and the bottle and has spent a lot of time in a suitcase. Largely on his cold island, Singer, in Florida, although that is a metaphor of himself, and apparently his life has become one long bender-bind. The Pages are primarily pegged to the news of the death of Edmund Wilson -- a reverential figure -- whose upstate was not too far from Exley's own cow country (Watertown) -- Wilson, whom he attempted and failed to see, whose funeral he attended, while in between he managed to meet Mrs. Pcolar, the young amanuensis of Wilson's last years. Intermittently and recurrently he keeps coming back to Wilson; he also tries and succeeds in spending a couple of hours with Gloria Steinem, and to catch maybe two minutes of the time of day with that ""human pseudo-event"" (courtesy of Daniel Brustein) Mailer. Sometimes, disappointingly too little of the time, Exley's ""pulpous"" -- one of his words -- dynamism carries forward from the earlier book; at others it barely escapes the plain piggishness of what he calls his satyriasis, so crudely matched, yes snatched, and recorded to what purpose -- confessional honesty? Read it you do (and the publishers expect that others will and call it an ""important literary event"") because of that rampant grab which defies both reason and taste. In the end it leaves you with a sense of dissipation a life, a talent.

Pub Date: April 22nd, 1975
Publisher: Random House