NABOKV-L post 0002316, Mon, 1 Sep 1997 11:55:27 -0700

VN & Fred Exely Lunatic Comparisons (fwd)
From: Mary Bellino <>

As Sylvia Wendel suggests, it is ludicrous to mention Nabokov and Fred
Exley in the same paragraph; they were at completely opposite ends of
the spectrum both in art and in life. Like many another from Fitzgerald
to Jay McInerney, Exley had one book in him (A Fan's Notes) which is
successful because it is the distilled outpouring of his own
experience. It's not totally artless of course, but I have trouble
believing that Exley had any conscious esthetic (lunatic or otherwise)
conscientiously applied. He was certainly capable of a nice turn of
phrase or a memorable image, but (PERHAPS like Nabokov at the end but
this is HIGHLY debatable) he couldn't distinguish his own good writing
from his own bad writing and revise the latter. There are a few good
pages in the second volume of his trilogy and none at all in the third;
it's all bombast and blow jobs (if the list will forgive the
expression) and incredibly tedious. Perhaps Sylvia Wendel can tell us
whether any pearls fell from his lips at Iowa, or whether he was hired
merely because he'd become a sort of cult figure.
Sorry about the (not very eloquent) rant but it's a very steamy Labor
Day here in Massachusetts.

Mary Bellino