14 January 2011

Imprint Friday: Exley by Brock Clarke

Welcome to Imprint Friday and today's featured imprint: Algonquin Books. Stop by each week to be introduced to a must-read title from one of my favorite imprints. I know you'll be adding many of these books to your wish list.

Brock Clarke should be a familiar name to you. Not just for today's featured title, Exley, but also for his An Arsonist's Guide to Writer's Homes in New England. I need to warn you: Exley is one of those novels that you pick up just to browse and find yourself still engrossed an hour later. Yeah, it's that kind of book.

Take a look at the publisher's summary:

For nine-year-old Miller, who lives with his mother in Watertown, New York, life has become a struggle to make sense of his father’s disappearance, for which he blames himself. Then, when he becomes convinced that he has found his father lying comatose in the local VA hospital, a victim of the war in Iraq, Miller begins a search for the one person he believes can save him, the famously reclusive—and, unfortunately, dead—Frederick Exley, a Watertown native and the author of his father’s favorite book, the “fictional memoir” A Fan’s Notes. The story of Miller’s search, told by both Miller himself and his somewhat flaky therapist, ultimately becomes an exploration of the difference between what we believe to be real and what is in fact real, and how challenging it can be to reconcile the two.
I was serious when I said that you can't just browse Exley. At least I couldn't. I was curious right from the first page and especially from the second paragraph (told in Miller's voice):
So why don't I begin there: the day I went to see my dad in the VA hospital. Exley's book begins toward the end, but he calls it a beginning anyway. Because this is one of the things I learned from Exley: anything can be a beginning as long as you call it one.
And so I needed to know about the beginning that might not have been a beginning. Before I had a copy of the book in my hands, I read a couple of reviews that caught my attention:
  • The Kirkus starred review calls Exley a "seriously playful novel about the interweave of literature and life."
  • The NPR review says: "In the hands of a less talented writer, the novel's layers, twists and identity puzzles could strain the belief of even the most credulous reader; but Clarke's narrative assurance and unfailingly realistic characters allow him to pull off the literary equivalent of a half-court shot."
This is a novel that will generate discussion about families, about how a book can have the power to change our lives, and about what happens if we refuse to stop pursuing our dreams.

Exley was an Indie Next pick for November 2010 and was named a best of 2010 by Kirkus. Be sure to check out Brock Clarke's website for more quotes and an excerpt as well as photos from the novel's setting.

This book was spotlighted as part of both my Imprint Fridays feature and my Get to know Algonquin Books feature. For more information about the imprint, please read Executive Editor Chuck Adams's introductory letter, posted here on January 7, 2011.

Exley at Powell's
Exley at Book Depository
These links lead to affiliate programs.

Published by Algonquin Books, 2010
ISBN-13: 9781565126084


serendipity_viv 1/14/11, 7:29 AM  

An Arsonist's Guide To Writers Homes? Seriously? I must read this author's work. Just hoping that title brings a satircal piece of work.

Sandy Nawrot 1/14/11, 8:12 AM  

This book just keeps popping up in front of me, which has to mean something. For every 50 books I read, only one or two will grab me and not let go until I finish. If this book had that effect on you, it deems consideration.

Anonymous,  1/14/11, 10:09 AM  

What a great review. From just the summary I can see why you would get sucked right in. I need to read this book very soon.

Julie P. 1/14/11, 11:02 AM  

Almost forgot that I wanted to read this one -- thanks for the reminder!

Zibilee 1/14/11, 11:19 AM  

I have this book and also got a chance to hear the author speak on it. I HAVE to make time for this one, as it seems that everyone who read it really loved it. Thanks for bringing it up again. I really do need to read this!

caite 1/14/11, 11:46 AM  

yes, I am shallow, but I love that cover.

Vasilly 1/14/11, 1:03 PM  

This is a book that has been on my tbr list for awhile now. Thanks for reminding me about it. I need to see about a copy now!

Margot 1/14/11, 1:20 PM  

I'm very susceptible to books that books that I'm casually browsing and, the next thing I know, I can't stop reading. I truly love books that do that to me. I don't know if I've mentioned it or not, but I really enjoy your Imprint Friday posts.

bermudaonion 1/14/11, 2:09 PM  

Brock Clarke spoke at SIBA and I've been a fan of his ever since, even though I haven't read any of his work yet. I'm anxious to read this one!

Unknown 1/14/11, 2:17 PM  

Not seen this one before, but it looks great. Thanks for highlighting it.

Dawn @ sheIsTooFondOfBooks 1/15/11, 9:30 AM  

"Anything can be a beginning as long as you call it one."

So, does Exley reinvent himself in this novel? I'm quite curious!

Rebecca Rasmussen 1/15/11, 10:35 AM  

I love this author, but I haven't read this book yet. Must read it now :)

Robin M 1/15/11, 2:30 PM  

I love books that capture you like that. Adding it to my wishlist.

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