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by Frederick Exley
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I’d place it above every American novel except Moby-Dick, Light in August, and Absalom, Absalom!
Here was the reading experience I was looking for! I couldn’t wait to get back to it. I read it over breakfast, over lunch. I voluntarily took the bus to work, just so I’d have extra time to read. It was the book that reminded me what a pleasure a great book can be.
James Ross published just one novel in his lifetime. This is a rare thing because of a paradox that lies at the heart of novel writing: it demands such sustained focus, such persistence, so much raw pig-headed stubbornness that anyone who does it once almost invariably does it again, and again, and again. Once is almost never enough.
McAllister became known as "the ultimate Philly guy." No wonder, considering he grew up in a row house, attended La Salle University, teaches at Temple, and even worked in a cheesesteak shop. But a person cannot be so reduced, as he explores in his new memoir.
This was my year of reading alcoholically. I didn’t plan it that way. But in book after book, the disease flourished and triumphed, not a recovery in sight.