BOOKS: A CHARMING MONSTER

JONATHAN YARDLEY TELLS THE STORY OF FREDERICK EXLEY, A VERY GOOD WRITER BUT A VEXING MAN

An odd and, to many readers, intriguing book appeared in 1968. Published as a novel, A Fan's Notes excited considerable curiosity about its previously unknown author, Frederick Exley, and its central character, a hopeless drunk and a lunatic rooter for the pro football New York Giants also named Frederick Exley. Who was this guy, so the question went at the time, the accomplished author or the alcoholic burnout he portrays?

Both, as it turned out, and the Washington Post book critic and columnist Jonathan Yardley engagingly examines this double identity in Misfit: The Strange Life of Frederick Exley (Random House; 255...

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