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The Analects of Confucious
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A Fan's Notes

A Fan's Notes - Frederick Exley Exceptionally lucky find in a kind of English book Pluto. It already has some staggering insights, but I'm going to take a wild guess what Exley revealed to his psychiatrist, based on the scenes he watches in the latrine.

This book was turning into a truly impressive high-wire act of style over substance. Long, comforting, apparently erudite considerations build into high expectation, then whatever he considered revealing turns out to be absolutely mundane or he chooses not to reveal any details at all. This would be consistent with his hinting that his mental illness was about being vainglorious somehow. But how can you say you had an altercation with Steve Mcqueen in a bar and leave it at that. Or talk about multiple stints in mental hospitals, but refuse to write down that one thing you told your psychiatrist?

If I were to apply classical Freudian analysis, using just half of this odd book, I'd guess that his famous football father, who never played more than local sports, died before making him feel like a man. Exley alternately has "very gay" male friends write his ridiculous first resume or checks out of the New York YMCA because there are gay men. Then there's his problem performing with an oversexed girlfriend. This is a man conflicted about living up to manhood, although he almost certainly likes women in general.

The moderating tone of his writing almost seems like a middle-class affectation of a working class Yank. The book would appeal to an industrialized, would-be middle class who are trying to minimize or aggrandize all that bumping into one another.

Although I must finally add that the book delivers on one of its key promises -- that is, football fandom. I grew up a New York Giants football fan, without really knowing the history. It turns out that those empty stadiums Exley describes were quite temporary, since one game between Frank Gifford's (and Exley's) Giants and the Baltimore Colts later transformed football from a local to a national sport.

It turns out that you can pit that 1958 Giants team against any team or collection of Hall of Famers in Madden Football, as I have done on an almost daily basis and get surprising outcomes. All the old Giants players, including Gifford, are rated too slow for today's combine culture, but put Gifford at receiver, where he finished his career and the results are wondrous.