Reader's Notes - Literature for Losers

This year's winner of the Man Booker Prize, Howard Jacobson (The Finkler Question) lists the five greatest novels about failure -- oddly enough, in the Wall Street Journal. Cautionary tales for capitalists?  For my money, I'll take the hilarious and horrifying debut novel from Frederick Exley, A Fan's Notes, a magical journey through mental illness, alcoholism, obsessive sports fandom, and extended periods of couch-bound lethargy. Published in 1968, A Fan's Notes is far and away Exley's best known book, a flash of brilliance from a writer who never seemed able to get out of his own way, and who died in 1992.

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