Friday, January 28, 2011


Exley by Brock Clarke

I loved Exley. I think I should be clear and up-front about that at the very beginning because the book itself is anything but "clear" and "up-front". Those who choose to read the book should be prepared for a different type of reading experience. The book has two narrators: young Miller Le Ray, a nine-year-old whose parents have separated and who is seeing a therapist, and the second is the therapist himself.

Miller believes that when his father and mother separated, that his father joined the army and was shipped off to Iraq. He also believes that his father was wounded in Iraq and is currently recovering in the local VA hospital. Clarke borrows heavily from an actual book that achieved cult status in the '60s called A Fan's Notes by Frederick Exley. Miller's father is obsessed with Exley's book and Miller believes the if he can track down Exley and bring him to his father, that his father will miraculously recover and that the pieces of his life will be put together again.

Clarke alternates between the viewpoint of Miller and his therapist. and does an excellent job of blurring the line between what is real and what are the fantasies of a young child's mind who has created them in an attempt to deal with the world and its disappointments.

★ ★ ★ ★ ☆

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