Do you ever have the feeling after opening a book that you’ve always known it? Like it was always nearby. Reading becomes more like remembering.
I’d heard about Frederick Exley’s book for many years, but avoided it for reasons I couldn’t pinpoint. Maybe when something is acclaimed in a certain way it’s a turn-off. There’s fear of disappointment. When the build-up is big enough the risk of shortfall rises proportionately. I didn’t want to hate yet another thing a bunch of people love.
The new thing I’ve been working on is a lot about fame and failure. What success means in this society. About how to relate to people you know who’ve gone further, either in others’ eyes or their own, and how to make peace with that. How to go on reconciling the likelihood that what you’ve devoted your life to will not matter to many others.
When I see a cheap paperback of A Fan’s Notes at Myopic, I decide to pick it up. Within a couple pages I can tell it’s the book I need to be reading right now.
The way Exley weaves autobiography with pop culture with artistic ambition with bitterness and envy is the same ballpark I’ve been mucking about the last few years.
I’m only a quarter way through, so don’t tell me how it ends. I want to savor it the same way I’m savoring the weird book I’m writing myself. I keep adding bits and pieces. Fragments from past and present. The artwork I‘ve been making, collages mostly, has been bleeding freely into the writing. I’ve wanted the writing and drawing to merge and it’s sort of happening.
Sometimes I get up from dead sleep and open the word file to write a line dreamt. Quickly before it’s forgotten.