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Exile
     

Exile

5.0 2
by Blake Nelson, Francine Kass (Designed by)
 

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Fiction - A Downtown Baudelaire of the 90's.

Overview

Fiction - A Downtown Baudelaire of the 90's.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
The second-rate doggerel that Mark West, the misogynistic poet who's this novel's protagonist, pens throughout Exile is perhaps the least offensive thing about this sophomoric effort from the author of Girl. A 31-year-old alum of New York City's poetry slam scene, Mark is little more than a front for Nelson's gross generalizations and stereotypes of everything from heroin abuse to the pop media's publicity machine. Even when Mark, the quintessential artiste of the streets, consents to a cushy artist residency at an Oregon university, only the scenery changes. Wherever the poet lands, he's able to find the only thing he enjoys more than his herointhe luxury of submissive and worshipful women. In fact, there wouldn't be text enough for a novel if it weren't for the myriad B-movie sex scenes interrupting the passages of inane dialogue. What discernible change there is in Mark's character doesn't arrive during the novel's intended crisis. It comes 20 pages earlier, when Mark is visited by an old friend who has risen from the underground to succeed as a magazine journalist, leading to Exile's single narrative epiphany: "Unlike Mark, who always went for the crushing emotional statement in his work, Alex's best stuff was always subtle and funny." It's true no one could rightly accuse Markor Nelson, for that matterof humor or subtlety. (June)
People
"Nelson lends a ringing, accurate voice to the darned generation." Christine Muhlke
Kirkus Reviews
Details writer and second-novelist Nelson (Girl, 1994) chronicles the restless adolescent flailings of a mediocre poet.

Thirty-one-year-old Mark West is a heroin-snorting high school grad with three published books and a powerful nostalgia for his fifteen minutes of fame, which took place some years back when New York magazine dubbed him the "Baudelaire of the Nineties." But now he's a marginal figure on the Manhattan spoken-word scene, reduced to trying to talk his way into nightclubs without paying, and scrambling for money and contacts. He even gets arrested on a subway platform. Howard, his beloved editor and indefatigable supporter, tells him he's letting his talent fritter away, and at Howard's urging, Mark reluctantly ships out to take a yearlong gig as artist-in-residence at a small Oregon college. There, he learns to make small talk with earnest faculty members and runs a poetry workshop attended by various dilettantish locals and by stringy- haired Vanessa, who has actual talent and clearly articulated disdain for his work. He sleeps with some students, drinks heavily, and loafs around his apartment, hopelessly bored. As his stint draws to a close, he starts work on some ironic nature poems and seduces a motherly and happily married English professor before heading back to Manhattan. He's ready to party, but key figures from his downtown gang are getting married. Then he learns that Howard, the only person he really cares about, is dying of AIDS, a discovery that precipitates not just sadness but panic: Who else will care about Mark's career? Perhaps (surprise, surprise) it's time to grow up.

This portrait of an aging loser and his airless world undoubtedly has its accurate elements, but barring any evidence of growth on Mark's part, the pointless litany of substance abuse, boredom, and bad poetry (quoted for pages on end) is mostly tedious.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780684838380
Publisher:
Scribner
Publication date:
06/11/1997
Edition description:
Original
Pages:
288
Product dimensions:
0.65(w) x 5.00(h) x 8.00(d)

Customer Reviews

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Exile 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 2 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This was a great book. I couldn't stop reading it. You need to read it.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I love books like this. The drunk and drugged loser poet stumbling around in his rarified world of no responsibility, no commitments, doing whatever the hell he wants, sleeping with his students, humorously screwing his life up in every imaginable way. I wouldn't want to be him though.