It was late summer in Iowa, hills and square-faced buildings and leaves as green as a feat of the imagination. There was a party for new students on a muggy September day in one of those big old houses downtown somewhere, and I remember Fred Exley swaggering in with two shining and beautiful students in tow […] and a quart bottle of vodka, from which he was swigging as if it were a big cold translucent beer. It would be many years later, when ‘Pages From a Cold Island’ came out, before I understood where he’d been and what his frame of mind might have been like that day, but at any rate I was impressed: here was a writer.
from ‘This Monkey, My Back’, T.C. Boyle