Books: Surreal Odyssey

LAST NOTES FROM HOME

by Frederick Exley

Random House; 397 pages; $18.95

A man named Frederick Exley sits on the balcony outside his room in a Honolulu hotel, sipping vodka and heating up steaks on a portable grill. It is his wedding night, and he and his bride have just had their first tiff as husband and wife. Eventually, she stops sulking and joins him. "Dropping to her knees," Exley writes, "she grasped my bare thighs and begged me to please, please, please remove the grilling fork from my chest." Exley, in other words, is up to the same trick he...

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