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The existential drinker$
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Steven Earnshaw

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9780719099618

Published to Manchester Scholarship Online: May 2019

DOI: 10.7228/manchester/9780719099618.001.0001

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Frederick Exley, A Fan’s Notes (1968): authenticity

Frederick Exley, A Fan’s Notes (1968): authenticity

(p.155) 8 Frederick Exley, A Fan’s Notes (1968): authenticity
The existential drinker

Steven Earnshaw

Manchester University Press

Fred Ex is the committed drinking protagonist of Frederick Exley’s A Fan’s Notes, in thrall to the career of the New York Giants footballer Frank Gifford. He realises he will never have fame of his own, and over time discovers himself to be alienated from all aspects of modern life and the American dream. The chapter analyses how these elements relate to Existential authenticity, including the novel’s play around the idea of ‘fictional memoir’ and autofiction. There are periods of depression for Fred Ex which lead to being committed to a mental asylum, and the chapter covers the philosophical issues around agency in relation to drinking and mental well-being. This chapter also looks at the protagonist as a developing writer since the novel is partly a künstlerroman, and how this in turn is entangled with drinking.

Keywords:   Frederick Exley, A Fan’s Notes, authenticity, alienation, fictional memoir, The Great American Novel, The American Dream, psychiatry, künstlerroman

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