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1. Advertisements for Myself
2. Oswald's Tale: An American Mystery
3. The Spooky Art: Thoughts on Writing
4. The Castle in the Forest: A Novel
5. An American Dream
6. Ancient Evenings
7. The Naked and the Dead: 50th Anniversary
8. Miami and the Siege of Chicago
9. Marilyn: A biography
10. The Armies of the Night: History
11. Norman Mailer: MoonFire: The Epic
12. Marilyn: The Classic
13. Harlot's Ghost: A Novel
14. Modest Gifts: Poems and Drawings
15. The Gospel According to the Son:
16. The Executioner's Song
17. Conversations with Norman Mailer
18. The Fight
19. The Lives of Norman Mailer: A
20. An American Dreamer :A Psychoanalytic

1. Advertisements for Myself
by Norman Mailer
Paperback: 532 Pages (1992-09-15)
list price: US$26.50 -- used & new: US$22.62
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0674005902
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
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Editorial Review

Product Description

Originally published in 1959, Advertisements for Myself is an inventive collection of stories, essays, polemic, meditations, and interviews. It is Mailer at his brilliant, provocative, outrageous best. Emerging at the height of "hip," Advertisements is at once a chronicle of a crucial era in the formation of modern American culture and an important contribution to the great autobiographical tradition in American letters.

... Read more

Customer Reviews (6)

5-0 out of 5 stars Fascinating book, nothing quite like it
This was one of the strangest and most engaging fictional works I have ever read. An autobiographical narrative consisting of novel excerpts, social commentary, reviews and short stories. Brutally honest and at times hilarious, I find myself regularly rereading many parts of the book and I'm always stunned by ,above all else, Mailer's humor and the vivid and unforgettable stories and characterers that he creates.

One reviewer remarked that Mailer's reputation in somewhat up in the air. Certainly Over the years Mailer has suffered much harsh criticism, from charges that he is misogynist to claims that he never fulfilled his own potential.

Nonetheless, Ancient Evenings and this book are his best works and I'm sure they will survive the test of time.

4-0 out of 5 stars Fantastic, grotesque, extraordinary book.
Originally appearing in 1959, "Advertisements for Myself" remains one of the most unusual books ever published by a novelist. Containing stories, essays, reviews, interviews, novel excerpts and poems, all with detailed, italicized annotations courtesy of the author, this book displays a massive, raging talent assessing itself and the world around it. It is sometimes poignant, sometimes maddening, but never less than compelling. I love this book.

Today, Mailer's reputation is rather up in the air. To me, his career is an example of an artist constantly pushing himself, writing with breathtaking ambition even if it exceeded his skill. There has never been another writer like Norman Mailer, and it is touching to read here of his desire to write a novel on the level of Dostoyevsky, Mann and Tolstoy, and to read his pithy, sometimes hilarious assessments of his contemporaries. His commentary on the ups and downs of his career and his disgust and sadness about the decline of American literature are illuminating, but his self-aggrandizement and egocentricity are often difficult to stomach. However, one has to stand in awe at the monument of his talent and his passion.

Reading this book today, one has to ask, "Did he fulfill his expectations?" I think so. "Harlot's Ghost," "Ancient Evenings," "The Executioner's Song" and numerous other works, both fiction and nonfiction, will endure, in my opinion. But I, for one, would like to know whatever happened to the self-promoted masterpiece of a novel he excerpts here. The small sections make for very stimulating reading.

All in all, "Advertisements for Myself" is a required text for everyone who loves great literature or aspires to write it for themselves.

2-0 out of 5 stars Mailer promised so much more than he ever delivered
All during the 1960s, when authors still appeared on The Tonight Show, The Dick Cavett Show, etc, the two authors who had the most exposure and mostproclaimed their "genius" were Norman Mailer and Truman Capote. Both fizzled miserably.Their dwindling fame will be filed under"Celebrity" rather than "Literature."Mailer is thebetter of the two, but he has not worn well.

5-0 out of 5 stars Advertisements for Myself
Advertisements for Mysel

5-0 out of 5 stars I read it ten times in the 1960s.Tenth time was best!
This book is filled with fiction, essays, and, literally, advertisements for Mailer.The ad he took out for "The Deer Park" is the classic of classics.There is a great work in here called "The Timeof Her Time."Sergius O'Shaugnessey is the hero, and I got the ideahe would appear again and again in Mailer's future fiction, but it neverhappened to my knowledge.This is a great book! ... Read more

2. Oswald's Tale: An American Mystery
by Norman Mailer
Paperback: 848 Pages (2007-01-23)
list price: US$15.95 -- used & new: US$8.98
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0345404378
Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars
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Editorial Review

Product Description
--The New York Times Book Review
"MAILER SHINES . . . Explaining Kennedy's assassination through the flaws in Oswald's character has been attempted before, notably by Gerald Posner in Case Closed and Don Delillo in Libra. But neither handled Oswald with the kind of dexterity and literary imagination that Mailer here supplies in great force. . . . Oswald's Tale weaves a story not only about Oswald or Kennedy's death but about the culture surrounding the assassination, one that remains replete with miscomprehensions, unraveled threads and lack of resolution: All of which makes Oswald's Tale more true-to-life than any fact-driven treatise could hope to be. . . . Vintage Mailer."
--The Philadelphia Inquirer
"FASCINATING . . . A MASTER STORYTELLER . . . Mailer gives us our clearest, deepest view of Oswald yet. . . . Inside three pages you are utterly absorbed."
--Detroit Free Press
LUCID . . . Mailer is fierce, courageous, and reckless and nearly everything he writes has sections of headlong brilliance. . . . [He] has found a way to make the dry bones of KGB tapes and his own interviews stand up and perform. . . . From the American master conjurer of dark and swirling purpose, a moving reflection."
--Robert Stone
The New York Review of Books
--Christopher Hitchens
Financial Times
"Mailer has written some pretty crazy books in his time, but this isn't one of them. Like its predecessor, Harlot's Ghost, it is the performance of an author relishing the force and reach of his own acuity."
--Martin Amis
The London Sunday Times
... Read more

Customer Reviews (30)

3-0 out of 5 stars Tedious
Some of the poor reviews of this book seem to be based on the fact that Mailer is not a dyed in the wool conspiracy advocate.I have read many, many books on the subject and have come to my personal conclusion that Oswald was the lone gunman.Yes, the Warren Commission was biased, yes, I believe the military and intelligence covered up their own incompetence by hiding things but I don't believe anyone but Oswald pulled the trigger.

Posner is a reprehensible journalist in my estimation but he made some valid points in his "Case Closed".He also missed tha mark on some items.The one thing that I find amazing among the conspiracy folks, of which I used to be one, is the issue of the location of the President's head wound. The Dallas doctors iniially described it in the back, then later recanted and agreed with the autopsy location.Many of the conspiracy people don't bother to tell you about the recanting or claim it to be coercion.

IT DOESN'T MATTER!Sorry to shout.The nature of the would doesn't require anything other than the Zapruder film. There is a very graphic image of the President's head exploding and a large piece of his skull flapped out above his right ear, exactly where the autopsy shows. At the same time you can clearly see that the hair on the back of his head is still neatly in place.

To the subject at hand, I found Mailer's treatment informative, incredibly tedious and overall not terribly enlightening.The part covering Oswald in Russia was like watching paint dry.What happened to his editor?I finally started skipping sections because it was mind numbing. I can't speak for the last half of the book.I was reading it today and accidentally left it somewhere. I probably would have finished it but I'm not willing to spend the money on a used copy.That's not a good sign.

3-0 out of 5 stars A Vivid, But Disjointed Mosaic
The Amazon reviewer above describes this book as a "vivid mosaic", which it is.I guess I just don't "get" the mosaic style of writing when it comes to a work of non-fiction.Mosaic, by nature, means "disjointed", and it is all at once disconcerting, confusing, and rather boring to try to digest a historical work in hodge-podge form.There is no question that Mailer did his homework on "Oswald's Tale".But the same story was related in logical and linear fashion in Priscilla Johnson McMillan's "Marina & Lee"... even in Edward Jay Epstein's "Legend: The Secret Life Of Lee Harvey Oswald".

Why is it that authors, artists, and TV producers today feel that they have to cater to the attention deficit disorder set, rather than presenting their work in packages of proper grammar, chronological sequence, and comprehensible form?Mailer's work is the product of probably the most meticulous research yet carried out on Oswald's life, yet is presented in a so-called "artistic" style better suited to a sci-fi novel, a style that makes this work of non-fiction quite the pain-in-the-ass to read and digest.

Now, having skewered Mailer's account of Lee & Marina, I have to give him credit where credit is due (which is also why I clicked 3 stars instead of 1 or 2):

I have been a 110% skeptic on the endless moonbeam conspiracy theories on the JFK assassination, yet the George DeMorenschildt connection has always raised a big, red flag in my mind.I know that Oswald acted alone in the assassination, without influence from the CIA, FBI, Mafia, Cuba, Russia, Lyndon Johnson, Jack Ruby, Elvis Presley, The Beatles, extraterrestrials, Clay Shaw, Richard Nixon, Woody Harrelson's dad, etc.BUT, after reading Mailer's book, I'm not so sure Oswald wasn't acting on, perhaps, a dare from DeMorenschildt.


5-0 out of 5 stars Maladjusted
This work by Norman Mailer relies in part on newly released KGB tapes of the Oswald surveillance.As is well known, Oswald sought to renounce his U.S. citizenship and then wanted to reclaim it and a valid passport to return to the U.S. with his new wife, Marina.

It is surmised that the interest of the security agencies was triggered by Oswald's lack of a reasonable motive as the basis for his conduct.(This lack of motive, this seeming unreason, goes all the way through the Oswald saga to its conclusion of murder and counter-murder.) Like Gary Gilmore, EXECUTIONER'S SONG, Mailer has a sort of existential anti-hero in his sights.His use of documentary sources to fill out his imaginative recreation of events is both bold and appropriate.

This book approaches the mastery of material pertaining to a troubled loner versus officaldom shown in EXECUTIONER'S SONG.The description of the KGB officer in charge of Oswald's case, his work schedule, his temperament, his family, is of great interest.Too, transcripts detailing the couple's interactions thicken the book's texture.Interspersed are the testimony and explanations of Oswald family members of the lives of Marina and Lee Harvey Oswald as given to the Warren Commission.

Mailer says that one impetus to writing the book was the availability of material from the Belarus KGB.Oswald's going to the Soviet Union as a Marine was astonishing because, Mailer opines, Marines do not defect.In Russia, torturing his vanity, Oswald was anonymous.Mailer is good at disclosing the mutually paranoid views of the super powers of the Oswald story.In addition to official sources, Mailer uses the work of authors Epstein, Posner, and McMillan.The result is excellent, a feast.

1-0 out of 5 stars I gave it 150 pages to ensnare me; it didn't
I stopped reading Norman Mailer's Oswald's Tale after 150 pages. Frankly, I was bored. Mailer opens his examination of Lee Harvey Oswald with an exhaustive, numbing biography of his wife Marina's ancestors and Oswald's adolescence in Russia. I did not care to know so much about Marina's cousins or Oswald's Russian girlfriends. Furthermore, Mailer writes these chapters in a simple, almost oral way, so they do not benefit from his wry, spirited voice and style. It is possible that the book improves once Mailer digs into the meat of the assassination and Oswald's potential motives, however I will never know for sure. Maybe Mailer should have started the novel at that point instead--then I might have read until the end. After reading and enjoying The Naked and the Dead, The Fight, and especially Harlot's Ghost, I found Oswald's Tale to be a disappointment.

4-0 out of 5 stars long
At almost 800 pages, Tale is weighed down with endless detail. Still much of the detail is fascinating in itself, such as the KGB's procedure in following Oswald in Russia. Mailer actually got the reports of KGB agents following Oswald. Mailer put incredible effort into retracing Oswald's travels in Russia, New Orleans, Mexico and Texas and speaking to dozens of people who had contact with him. Mailer quotes numerous other writers. Only the last hundred pages got down to the action. His account of whodunit and why is necessarily speculative, but I don't know of a more credible one. ... Read more

3. The Spooky Art: Thoughts on Writing
by Norman Mailer
Paperback: 352 Pages (2004-02-10)
list price: US$16.00 -- used & new: US$9.26
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0812971280
Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
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Editorial Review

Product Description
In The Spooky Art, Norman Mailer discusses with signature candor the rewards and trials of the writing life, and recommends the tools to navigate it. Addressing the reader in a conversational tone, he draws on the best of more than fifty years of his own criticism, advice, and detailed observations about the writer’s craft. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (15)

4-0 out of 5 stars The Crafty Art
Norman Mailer refers to "Writing about Writing" as "The Spooky Art." And by producing this review I am "Writing about Writing about Writing." The word "Craft" appears in the title of Stephen King's book on writing. Thus some well-known writers view writing about writing as more of a crafty art than a science. King speaks even more disparaging about books on writing.
Mailer's book is a potpourri. It is a cut-and-paste collection of essays, interviews, and other previously
published and unpublished materials on writing, including his speeches, prefaces to other books, and forums on
Many of the items included were gathered and assembled by J. Michael Lennon, to whom the book is dedicated.Lennon also authored the section called "Source Notes," which appears on pages 311-320.One wonders whether Lennon should have been a coauthor. The writing of this book, of course, is like all of Mailer's
writing--- smooth, interesting, and thought provoking.
In the preface to "The Spooky Art: Some Thoughts on Writing" mailer says that this book should appeal to the following audiences: people who wish to write; students; critics; men and women who love to read; and most of all to young novelists who wish to improve their skills and commitments to serious novel-writing.
The preface also says that his book contains literary gleanings, apercus, fulminations, pensees, gripes,
insights, regrets, affirmations, a few excuses, several insults, and a number of essays more or less intact.
Some of the sections included in this book are: writing courses; style; first person versus third person point of view; real life versus plot life; instinct and influence; gender and narciscism narcissism, ; literary giants; and genre.
Norman Mailer extends the usual meaning of "genre" so that it included some of the other art forms available to the novelist other than non-fiction or literary criticism. He includes, for example, journalistic research,
film, television, and the occult.
Unlike Stephen King's book on writing, Mailer's includes a table of contents and an index. This aids the reader in locating topics of interest. Also, even a cursory glance at his index reveals mention of his contemporaries, rivals, and literary idols. He dwells on a few on these in depth, whereas many are briefly mentioned.
Norman Mailer seemed to have a fetish about erotic writings or films. This can be seen in the writers he admired and in the movies he liked. His book devotes much space to Henry Miller and William Burroughs and especially to D.H. Lawrence. Also, he becomes fixated on "Last Tango In Paris."
Mailer advises would-be novelists to stress character development, perhaps even at the expense of plot. He implies that successful development of characters will lead to plot in a natural way.He goes so far as to say that a pre-formed plot can be detrimental to the writing of the author's novel. Mailer has very little to say about the writing of short stories.
From time to time throughout the book one can sense the influence Ernest Hemingway's writing had on Mailer. It is interesting to note that the theme of the November 2010 Conference of the Norman Mailer Society will be "Mailer and Hemingway."
The first half of the book, where Mailer discusses the ups-and-downs of his own writing career is more
interesting than the later sections, which are sometimes a bit forced. The writer hoping to find useful details on writing techniques will be disappointed, as this book is more about Mailer himself than about the presumed subject of his book.
I do recommend this book to both neophyte writers and seasoned authors. Mailer always provides an interesting ride. Norman Mailer was an important writer of great versatility and "The Spooky Art: Some Thoughts On Writing" adds to his reputation.

3-0 out of 5 stars After a Strong First Half, "Spooky Art" Fizzles
Rather than a book in its own right, "The Spooky Art" is a compilation of over 190 different interviews, essays, and unpublished thoughts on writing. Well, the first half is about writing--the second half delves into television and film before settling on criticisms of specific authors (Tolstoy, Hemingway, Lawrence). While the parts about Mailer's career are fascinating, the diversions in the Part II will test the reader's patience. Are you ready to read 15 pages devoted to Mailer's thoughts on "Last Tango in Paris"?

4-0 out of 5 stars A writer's writer
Mailer has truly accomplished something valuable in the first half of The Spooky Art. He provides examples of the real world lessons and passions of a successful author. The book is essentially a collection of previous published articles that are edited and jointed together with contemporary transitions. Many passages take the reader into the writing process as Mailer describes the creation of several of his famous works.

He makes palpable the level of persistence (what he calls stamina) that is needed to finish a book. Every author I know has come to the point in writing a book where the mountain seems too high to climb. Mailer's description of this agonizing moment (or day or week...) can help you understand and work through this period. While most writers feel that the work comes easier to others, Mailer makes it clear that this is not so.

I think the chapter on journalism is a must-read for fiction and non-fiction writers alike. He does an excellent job of describing how a novelist's eye can present a more accurate account of an event than a journalist. His way of seeing things can very helpful if you're writing non-fiction. Just as interesting are Mailer's views on critics and criticism -- they are surprisingly sanguine. He clearly thinks that you have to read reviews despite the pain they may inflict to understand how you might improve.

Despite how good the beginning of the book may be, the last third (especially his discussion of television and film) is long winded, dated, and seems like filler. Some of the later chapters (particularly "The Argument Reinvigorated") are dense but not especially enlightening.

3-0 out of 5 stars Putting the Bitch to rest
I applaud Mailer for his frankness--the passages on drug use and illness do shed light on the unsavory side of a writer's life. His advice is sound and direct, much like an old soldier who's been through battle and neither glamourizes nor minces words when telling his tale.
However, it is hard to believe that modern readers won't stumble over the thinly-veiled sexism that permeates practically every chapter. Yes, it is understandable that he eschews the politically correct pronoun "they" in favor of "he." Still, in the year 2003, Mailer doubts the ability of women to both understand and write about war, and this is just one glaring example.
According to Mailer, a woman must have an "immense talent" to write about bravery, while men seem to inherently master this abstract concept. (Taken to mean that the woman's immense talent lies in her imagination, for she is obviously dreaming up something beyond her scope of reference).

The Spooky Art does instruct and inspire. However, its author seems lost in a golden age where men did the writing and women served as cruel, untouchable muses (his favorite metaphor for novel writing is bedding the "Bitch.")

As a last note, it's amusing that Mailer dogs King, equating his works to "fast food." As a whole, King's "On Writing" is a better structured, more elucidating antidote to Mailer's ponderous, rambling "The Spooky Art."

5-0 out of 5 stars This really isn't much of a review...
...So don't feel obligated to say if you found it helpful or not.

Five years ago I read Mailer's "Barbary Shore," believing it had been a well-received "important" book of its time. For that, I wrote a snide review of it here on Amazon. Back then I was so deluded I thought only I had caught on to what a misfire that book was.

Yeah. I know. Kind of lame, some kid in the Midwest taking potshots at Norm.

The annoying thing is that Amazon won't remove that old review, no matter how many times I ask tech support. It has something to do with the fact that I wrote it using a different user account, which I've since closed.

So Amazon, take the review down already, huh?

As for "The Spooky Art?" It's a fine collection. Order a copyand read it on the train. Good stuff. Don't take it too seriously, either. We all know Norm's ego was big in the 50s & 60s, and we all know he did some dastardly things for publicity. You would too if you were an author and wanted to sell your books -- no need to crucify him about it in our little reviews, and no need to deny his talent any longer (except for Barbary Shore, of course).

One more time -- Amazon, take down that old review! ... Read more

4. The Castle in the Forest: A Novel
by Norman Mailer
Paperback: 477 Pages (2007-10-16)
list price: US$16.95 -- used & new: US$7.88
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0812978498
Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars
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Editorial Review

Product Description
No career in modern American letters is at once so brilliant, varied, and controversial as that of Norman Mailer. In a span of more than six decades, Mailer has searched into subjects ranging from World War II to Ancient Egypt, from the march on the Pentagon to Marilyn Monroe, from Henry Miller and Mohammad Ali to Jesus Christ. Now, in The Castle in the Forest, his first major work of fiction in more than a decade, Mailer offers what may be his consummate literary endeavor: He has set out to explore the evil of Adolf Hitler.

The narrator, a mysterious SS man who is later revealed to be an exceptional presence, gives us young Adolf from birth, as well as Hitler’s father and mother, his sisters and brothers, and the intimate details of his childhood and adolescence.

A tapestry of unforgettable characters, The Castle in the Forest delivers its playful twists and surprises with astonishing insight into the nature of the struggle between good and evil that exists in us all. At its core is a hypothesis that propels this novel and makes it a work of stunning originality. Now, on the eve of his eighty-fourth birthday, Norman Mailer may well be saying more than he ever has before.

From the Hardcover edition. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (82)

5-0 out of 5 stars This is what
This is what you will want to know when you lay dying.Certainly there are mistakes.Certainly there is want.Never has a man presented himself from "Christians and Cannibals" as to this end.Probably you won't like it.Certainly it's the best dying monologue written by western man.There's a beauty within. Beyond the usual Mailer-isms. Perhaps best perceived by those who followed the writings of Mailer. Beyond Hitler. I see it in those ants in my yard.Whom I've come to adore.

5-0 out of 5 stars The Castle in the Forest
I received the book in a very short time.I am very pleased with the
prompt service.

4-0 out of 5 stars Hell's First Family...
This book, in hardcover, had for too long been taking up considerable space on my bookshelf; it was primarily for this reason, because I wanted to get rid of it more than I wanted to read it, and because I couldn't quite bring myself to just throw out that I decided to give it a shot. This was, after all, Norman Mailer, a writer whose work must give one pause...at least before chucking into the trash on top of the used coffee grounds.

I wasn't expecting too much; "The Castle in the Forest" was written at the end of Mailer's career, and life, when he was something of a crust of his former self. And his former self was arguably inflated well beyond his real worth to begin with.

So I was happily surprised to find myself thoroughly engaged in this fictionalized version of the Hitler family, up to Adolf's early adolescence, as retold by one of Satan's left-hand men, a former SS officer named Dieter.

Let's face it, anything written about Hitler holds inherent interest, so how good this novel would have been if its subject had been almost anyone else...Walter Mondale, for instance...must be balanced into the equation. But it's not about anyone else, it's about Hitler, and the (very) twisted family tree from which he dropped, its most wormy apple; so Mailer has a leg up on us from the start. And he gets the other leg up in short order.
"The Castle in the Forest" is quick-paced, readable, filled with irony, historical asides and anecdotes, wild leaps of fictional conjecture, and lots of the scatology and incestuous preoccupation that Mailer has, on occasion, been notorious for evoking. Here, though, no one is going to attack him for making us think the worse of his subject, who, among other embarrassing and ugly characteristics, is portrayed as smelling really really bad.

At about page 366, a huge wasp suddenly appeared in my room.

I have no idea where it could have come from. This thing was as big as a seagull, no kidding. Impossible to ignore, it insisted on flying back and forth, leveling itself off directly at me, so that I had to swat at it with "The Castle in the Forest" in self-defense just to avoid a collision.

The wasp, when you come to think about it, could well be the S.S. officer of the insect kingdom. Sleek, dark, handsome...and dead-nasty with its ready stinger.

A few days earlier, some famous skateboarder, I forget his name, some dude nearly fifty, died of a heart-attack suffered after a wasp sting. So, really, this could be a matter of life and death. You never know. It certainly crossed my mind. How could it not?

Anyway the wasp, finally, landed on a sunny window where, creeping up on it, I squashed it by pressing my copy of "The Castle in the Forest" against the mini-blinds for a good minute or so. You can never be too certain with a wasp. Those things have the ability to survive quite a blow, unfold themselves, and come right back at you--it must be something about their carapace, or whatever. I'm no entomologist.

Well, I crushed it pretty good, then, still taking no chances, I decapitated it with the edge of the book. After these grisly proceedings, I was able to finish reading "The Castle in the Forest" in relative peace.

Some of Mailer's cosmic, pseudo-Miltonian ramblings about the nature of good and evil, and, particularly, the epic battle between God and Satan for the soul of humanity are a bit tedious--and not particularly original. And there is a section of approximately 50 pages where the narrator heads off to Russia to describe the angelic and demonic forces surrounding the coronation of Tsar Nicholas and the Empress Alexandra that seems to be present for no other discernible reason than to set up a novel that Mailer never lived to write. By this I mean to say, this book is not without its flaws, even major flaws, but if a book's worth is to be judged at least in part by whether or not you feel compelled to keep on reading--and how can it not be?--than "The Castle in the Forest" is certainly a success by my estimation.

I am, indeed, glad I read the book before I threw it out. The wasp, I'd venture so much to say, is not.

4-0 out of 5 stars How Evil Takes Root
There is much in Norman Mailer's "The Castle in the Forest" that is reminiscent of C. S. Lewis' "The Screwtape Letters", but I won't ruin for you the reasons why.Instead I will tell you that this story is rooted in the cosmic contest between good and evil.The battle ground is a middle class Austrian family in the late 19th century.Their petty jealousies and bickering, their harbored hatreds, their dying capacity for compassion, and even their positive virtues like love and self-sacrifice are used against them to drive one of their sons into the employ of evil.The family's name is Hitler.While this is most certainly fiction and not history or biography, the reader wonders just how close to fact Mailer is in this telling.At the end of the day Adolf Hitler was no more or less human than any of us, so how was it he became the agent of evil in the 20th century?Mailer offers an important idea of just how it happened.

2-0 out of 5 stars Boredom in the Forest
This was a great idea for a book, clever devil, secretly lurking among mortals with an inside scoop into Adolph Hitlers genesis and his formative years.Adolf was identified as a person with great promise and was nurtured and guided by the narrating devil.Unfortunately Mailer weighs the story down with too lenghty digressions into irrelevant, parrallel story lines.He chose to insert just plain old nasty homo-pedophiliac themes that have no place in the book, don't add to it other than to inject a curiously detailed description of the same.Enough about the MF bees already, we get it.He likes bees.Too bad Mailer lost the opportunity to explore historical characters from the era with his obsession on tedious detail.DO NOT BUY. ... Read more

5. An American Dream
by Norman Mailer
Paperback: 288 Pages (1999-05-04)
list price: US$14.95 -- used & new: US$7.87
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0375700706
Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars
Canada | United Kingdom | Germany | France | Japan
Editorial Review

Product Description
Stephen Rojack is a decorated war hero, a former Congressman, and a certified public intellectual with his own television show. He is also married to the very rich, very beautiful, and utterly amoral Deborah Caughlin Kelly. But one night, in the prime of his existence, he hears the moon talking to him on the terrace of a fashionable New York high-rise, and it is urging him to kill himself. It is almost as a defense against that infinitely seductive voice that Rojack murders his wife.

In this wild battering ram of a novel, which was originally published to vast controversy in 1965, Norman Mailer creates a character who might be a fictional precursor of the philosopher-killer he would later profile in The Executioner's Song.As Rojack runs amok through the city in which he was once a privileged citizen, Mailer peels away the layers of our social norms to reveal a world of pure appetite and relentless cruelty. Sensual, horrifying, and informed by a vision that is one part Nietzsche, one part de Sade, and one part Charlie Parker, An American Dream grabs the reader by the throat and refuses to let go. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (32)

5-0 out of 5 stars Deconstructing the dream
In some ways, Mailer's An American Dream must have shocked far more when it came out than it does now. Neither the very explicit sex scenes nor the violence are that unusual anymore. Other things, though, may surprise more than they did: the social commentary, for one. What is unusual about An American Dream is that the degeneracy all happens at the top. The protagonist, Stephen Rojack, is an ex-congressman and war hero. He has married an heiress and is confronted with her father, industrial magnate and spy. For another, there is the religious language in which much of Rojack's soul-searching is wrapped: twenty-first century agony would not be signposted in such moral terms. But this is Mailer, and it is unsurprisingly about more than sex and violence.

Yet on some level, this novel could read like an ordinary thriller, a very well-paced thriller at that. Rojack kills his wife early on (no spoiler here). The rest of the novel takes place in the following two days, as we wonder whether he will be caught, whether he'll turn himself in, or fall foul of his father-in-law's underground connections. Rojack goes on a rampage among Mafiosi and female cabaret singers. Nothing is spared in what could be interpreted either as headlong flight or search for atonement: American race relations, the country's war record, among others, are put through the grinder, not to forget TV and New York academia. An American Dream is a literary roller coaster. Be prepared to be shocked in ways you had not expected.

5-0 out of 5 stars Required reading ... at least for writers ...
I first read An American Dream back in college and have reread it three times since ... it remains a haunting look at the demons inside us all.I wonder how it plays to the young today, since what was "verboten" back then is the stuff of commonplace today; are we spiraling backwards or forwards?

1-0 out of 5 stars How to kill your wife and be happy ever after
Stephen Rojack is (in the words of the publisher's blurb) a decorated war hero, a former Congressman and a certified public intellectual with his own television show. He is also a murderer. One night, in a drunken rage, he murders his estranged wife Deborah and then, pausing only to have sex with her German maid Ruta, pitches her body out of the window of her flat to make her death look like suicide. The police have their suspicions about Rojack, but cannot actually prove his involvement in his wife's death, and he is never charged with any crime. (That doesn't say a lot for the state of forensic science in the sixties). The rest of the book is taken up with Rojack's late-night Odyssey though the New York underworld, his relationship with a singer-cum-prostitute named Cherry and his bizarre interview with his father-in-law, Deborah's immensely wealthy father Barney Kelly.

The title "An American Dream" is deliberately ambiguous. On the one hand it refers- ironically- to the patriotic ideology of the "American dream", the idea that it is America, of all the countries in the world, which provides its citizens with the optimum conditions for the pursuit of happiness. On the other hand, it could be that Mailer intended his title to be interpreted quite literally, to suggest that Rojack's adventures never took place outside his imagination, that they are no more than a drink-fuelled hallucination. Certainly, the writing does at times take on a weird, nightmarish quality, a quality heightened by Mailer's lengthy, intricate, swirling and frequently obscure sentences. It is certainly suggested that Rojack is on the verge of madness; early in the book, before Deborah's murder, he hears the moon urging him to kill himself. The moon, of course, is frequently associated with insanity, hence the etymological link between "lunar" and "lunatic".

There are certain similarities with Hemingway's work.The prose styles of the two writers are very different (Hemingway generally being much terser), but Mailer is clearly writing in the same tradition of literary machismo. The book is written in the first person, with the world seen through the eyes of Rojack himself. This is a very male-oriented world; women generally enter into Rojack's life either as his bitter enemies (Deborah) or as sources of sexual gratification (Ruta, Cherry).

The book was immensely controversial when it was first published in the mid sixties, not only among the sort of conservatives who disapproved of any literary treatment of sex and violence but also because of Mailer's attitude to women. He adopts a deliberately amoral position towards Rojack's crime, which is never explicitly condemned. Rojack himself never expresses any remorse or regret at his wife's death; his only concern, apart from sex with Ruta, is to try and ensure that the blame does not fall on him. In earlier decades there was an unofficial literary convention that fictitious criminals, just as much as real-life ones, had to be seen to pay for their misdeeds, but in the sixties this was breaking down.

The book clearly has its admirers- the majority of those who have reviewed it here have awarded it either four or five stars- but I, quite frankly, loathed it. The theme of violent or sexual crimes committed by males against females is a difficult one, but there are male writers who have covered the topic well. Examples that come to mind are Vladimir Nabokov's "Lolita" and John Fowles's "The Collector". Both those works are, like "An American Dream", first-person narratives, and both Nabokov and Fowles allow their anti-heroes Humbert Humbert and Frederick Clegg to condemn themselves out of their own mouths.

"An American Dream" is not in the same class. It is a lurid celebration of violence with a nasty streak of misogyny running throughout. The repulsive Rojack's pseudo-philosophical meanderings read less like self-condemnation than self-justification. He wants to blame everyone but himself; Deborah's death is either her own fault (he paints her as an obnoxious harridan) or that of society in general, a society which both Rojack and Mailer see as sick, although there is no meaningful analysis of that sickness or of the social causes of violence. No amount of protest against the crushing banality of society can justify the taking of another person's life. It is hardly surprising that the feminist critic Kate Millett called this book "an exercise in how to kill your wife and be happy ever after."

5-0 out of 5 stars I 've listened about 12 times in the car
I never get tired of this book by Norman Mailer as read by MacDonald Carey.He has a great voice and a great acting style that make you see the book in your head like a movie!I am not kidding, sometimes I forget it was a book and think I saw this movie!I protect this tape like the special item it is.If you like the dark side, you'll like this book very much.

3-0 out of 5 stars The death of the American Dream

Mailer's `classic' story of a supposedly all-American life gone astray is at times very good, but all too often it doesn't reach the heights that it is aiming for.The concept of the American Dream is something that has loomed large in popular culture both in the US and in the exported version of that culture abroad.Many authors and artists have attempted to explore and seek out the essence of this rather ambiguous concept (Hunter S. Thompson comes to mind).More often than not they have not really known where to look and have come to the conclusion that the American Dream is dead or at least decaying.This view is central to Mailer's own investigation into the Dream.In this book he attempts to convey a broader picture of society through the fall from grace and respectability of a middle-aged successful former Congressman.

Certainly the downfall of one man's life from seeming respectability and contentment into upheaval, the underworld and the margins of his former society can be seen as a metaphor for an American generation in general or even the entire society.The fixation on suicide throughout the book seems almost a forced symbolic element when taken as part of the surface or primary story; it definitely makes more sense when applied to the death of the American dream as a whole.That Mailer sees US society standing on the ledge of building and alternating between the impulse to jump and self-preservation I think is a rather accurate assessment of the times he was writing about.The problem is that the effort to tie this into the story of the individual is too obvious or unnatural for lack of a better term.

Mailer set his goal high in writing this book, but for this kind of work the parallel meanings have to both be obvious, be able to stand independent of each other, and most importantly, naturally intertwine with each other.The failure to do so results in something that might have been great and yet clearly is not.All that being said, I did enjoy the book for the most part and would recommend it as a decent story and summation of a challenging time in the history of US society.One certainly cannot fault Mailer for the attempt.
... Read more

6. Ancient Evenings
by Norman Mailer
Paperback: 709 Pages (1997-10-02)
list price: US$22.70 -- used & new: US$15.31
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0349109702
Average Customer Review: 3.0 out of 5 stars
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Ancient Evenings, a dazzlingly rich, deeply evocative novel, recreates the long-lost civilisation of Ancient Egypt. Mailer breathes life into the figures of that era; the eighteenth dynasty Pharaoh Rameses and his wife, Queen Nefertiti; Menenhetet, their creature, lover and victim; and the gods and mortals that surround them in intimate and telepathic communion. His hero, three times reincarnated during the novel, moves in the bright sunlight of white temples, in the exquisite gardens of the royal harem, along the majestic flow of the Nile and in the terrifying clash of battle. An outstanding work of creative imagination, Ancient Evenings displays Mailer's obsession with magic, violence and eroticism and lives on in the mind long after the last page has been turned. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (28)

4-0 out of 5 stars Very Stream of Consciousness.
Packs a lot of thought and realizations, story telling, in a short time span, without moving around, yet that's exactly what you feel is going on.Very vividly told, too.

1-0 out of 5 stars go to sleep
un-readablework by an honorable artist--rip---this one is over-wrought---way too complcated with names and stupid fantasies and long story short --I GAVE UP AFTER 30 PAGES ---SUCKED!

5-0 out of 5 stars A Wonderful Reading Experience

I read this book when it was first published over 20 years ago. Not an easy read, not many of Mailer's books are, but thought provoking and interesting in the extreme. It was news of Norman Mailer's death that made me reach to the top of the bookcase and re-read my well worn copy.

For anyone interested in Egyptology, the book is a must even though it is a work of fiction. There are wonderful and for me memorable parts in the book. The way Mailer brings the reader into the depths and darkness of an Egyptian tomb, eventually for them to realise that the person narrating the tale is in fact the dead pharaoh, who himself has just had a rude awakening when he realises that he is no longer among the living and that his soul is now faced with all the shades and visitations of the undead that his beliefs have taught him throughout his lifetime.

The book shows in great detail the pageantry and might of the Egypt of that period. It shows the love of a family and also the sorrow that even the most lowly of families must experience. If this was not how Egypt really was, then it is how it should have been. For anyone who missed it first time around it is a must read.

1-0 out of 5 stars The Scourge of Egypt Needs A Purge
Whether the writer is famous (like Mailer) or an unknown, it must have been easier to publish a novel when this first came out. If an unknown attempted to publish this book today, it would be rejected. It's bloated, scattered, confusing in need of a strong laxative to get rid of the crap. That would narrow this mammoth into a novella. It's loaded with sex (odd that Mailer claims to be homophobic but loves writing about it), magic and myth of the period. The only good think I can say about this book is Mailer did his research and some of the descriptive passages leap off the page; however, most of the book is too arthritic to jump. I haven't read anything satisfying by this author and thought this book might be the exception but like like the author, both are full of crap and need a good purging.

1-0 out of 5 stars THE BOOK WAS NEVER DELIVERED!!!!!!
I ordered this book in September, and four months later, it still had NOT been delivered.I cancelled the order in frustration and will not be pursuing it any further.What a disappointment. ... Read more

7. The Naked and the Dead: 50th Anniversary Edition
by Norman Mailer
Paperback: 736 Pages (2000-08-05)
list price: US$18.00 -- used & new: US$6.00
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0312265050
Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
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Hailed as one of the finest novels to come out of the Second World War, The Naked and the Dead received unprecedented critical acclaim upon its publication and has since become part ofthe American canon. This fiftieth anniversary edition features a new introduction created especially doe the occasion by Norman Mailer.

Written in gritty, journalistic detail, the story follows an army platoon of foot soldiers who are fighting for the possession of the Japanese-held island of Anopopei. Composed in 1948, The Naked and the Dead is representative of the best in twentieth-century American writing.
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Customer Reviews (76)

5-0 out of 5 stars A War Novel, not a Battle Novel
I was satisfied to find how well this novel has stood the test of time. I read it when it first came out but was too young to appreciate it. I just re-read it to see how it compares with current war novels. It is about how the individual characters deal with the stresses of war. The characters include almost all ranks and socio-economic classes. For me he nailed the characters. I feel that I have known many of them, some closely, some not so. The psychological insights ring true, as well. The only character that I felt he grasped at was the scout Sergeant who was a Mexican.

The descriptions of the surroundings, the oppressive climate, and the sense of exhaustion had me suffering with the men.

The book is a classic but don't read it if you are in a hurry and don't want to be absorbed by it.

4-0 out of 5 stars Life is no bowl of cherries.
Many, many years ago, in high school, I read this novel.As time passed, all I could really remember of it were a few isolated points.A poor farmer in overalls spits on the dirt and says, "Reckon it's a law of life."A sergeant named Croft deliberately shoots a union man just to see what it feels like.(That was a shocker 60 years ago.)"I don't know why I'm not more popular with the girls; I'm such an easy lay.""Kunai" grass.The agony in wrestling cannon along a jungle trail that seems to have no end.I'd never read such an apt description of physical exhaustion and still haven't.Some men carrying a comrade with a belly wound, and he's moaning with thirst, and his carriers are tired of schlepping him to the rear and one of his buddies begins saying, "Aww, give him a little water," so he can die and shut up.Oh -- and "fug."

I recently started reading it again, with a little more experience behind me, and I don't think I'm quite as impressed as I remember being.There's nothing particularly "reportorial" about the novel.It gets into more than enough detail of the men's lives for us to understand, in part, how they got to be what they are.Much of it's pretty colorful too.But we don't really need a bum's life spelled out to that extent.

Mailer uses a device called "The Time Machine" to take us back to the childhood and the subsequent development of each man in the squad, plus Lieutenant Hearn.Here, the writing is impressionistic but not badly done.In the rest of the text, he observes the usual grammatical rules.

I had a hard time believing some of the relationships.Lieutenant Hearn argues with -- practically insults -- General Cummings.Well, I've been in the military since I first read this, and that relationship is not concordant with my impressions of how the status ladder is structure.

My overall impression at this point -- I'm about half-way through -- is that it's well written, the characters are distinct, and it's a little wordy.Not to mention that if an alien from the planet Ymir in the Crab Nebula of Orion were to read only this, in an attempt to get an impression of life on Earth, he or it would conclude that we're a pretty depressing bunch of organisms.Even when the men are drunk on jungle juice and laughing, Mailer the omniscient lets us know about the anger, frustration, and sadness roiling around inside.Everybody has had a lousy life and is unhappy.Well, maybe with the exception of Goldstein.Goldstein may not be exactly happy.Who COULD be under these conditions?But at least he's relatively normal.

In his forward, the aged Mailer criticizes this early work.Coffee must be "scalding."But that's okay.The adjectival cliches are there but they don't leap out at you.I found it interesting that Mailer admits he set out to write a blockbuster novel.I'm not at all surprised to find out that he set out to DO it.I'm surprised he admits it.As Woody Allen says, when asked who Norman Mailer was, "He was a writer.Very popular.He left his ego to Harvard Medical School."

5-0 out of 5 stars Mailer's best.
This is Mailer's first and, in my opinion, best novel. It's not characteristically bombastic and egotistical like his later works, but that's what I like about it. One of the best war novels ever written; gritty, realistic, and full of memorable scenes and characters. A great read. The folks who gave this a one star review are silly and lack insight.

5-0 out of 5 stars Excellent WWII Novel
Norman Mailer's "The Naked and the Dead" sat on my shelf for a couple of years.I had made two past attempts to read and both failed with me giving up by page 50.However, I revisited the book and once you begin to understand Mailer's writing style and the inclusion of so many characters the novel really blossoms.Mailer weaves the complexities of war, its philosophies, and the bond between soldiers.My favorite quote is when the soldiers are discussing the futility of war and the soldier Red says, "fighting a war to fix something works about as good as going to a whorehouse to get rid of a clap."The book is remarkable in that it engages in action, violence, strategy, and the quiet moments of war.Although written over 50 years ago "The Naked and the Dead" still retains relevance today and should be read by everyone.Don't let the length alarm you, it is to be savored and read slowly.

5-0 out of 5 stars great
This is one of the best books of the mid-century. Beyond articulating a new style of American literature, it is one of the most moving books I have ever encountered.
If the book has a flaw it is that some of the pathoi of the characters are patronizing. Mailer writes best when he has experienced his subject matter. On the one hand, the Harvard educated Hearn and the tension between the secular Americanized Jew Roth and the pious son of the "old world" Goldstein are elegantly and incisively wrought. On the other, while giving depth to Martinez a Chicano from Texas and Wilson a poor white southerner, he falls a bit short. This is not to say when these latter characters interact with the others and their situations there is no connection between the reader and subject, I felt one. Rather, Mailer has fallen into a trap inherent to the nature of writing he is pioneering. For the very reason it is a new and novel mode of description, it cannot help but fall into the penumbra under the intersection of disinterested account and deeply felt fictional apologia. Yet, there is equal value there, both as an important historical document and as a great novel. ... Read more

8. Miami and the Siege of Chicago (New York Review Books Classics)
by Norman Mailer
Paperback: 224 Pages (2008-07-15)
list price: US$14.95 -- used & new: US$6.99
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 1590172965
Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
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1968. The Vietnam War was raging. President Lyndon Johnson, facing a challenge in his own Democratic Party from the maverick antiwar candidate Eugene McCarthy, announced that he would not seek a second term. In April, Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated and riots broke out in inner cities throughout America. Bobby Kennedy was killed after winning the California primary in June. In August, Republicans met in Miami, picking the little-loved Richard Nixon as their candidate, while in September, Democrats in Chicago backed the ineffectual vice president, Hubert Humphrey. TVs across the country showed antiwar protesters filling the streets of Chicago and the police running amok, beating and arresting demonstrators and delegates alike.
In Miami and the Siege of Chicago, Norman Mailer, America’s most protean and provocative writer, brings a novelist’s eye to bear on the events of 1968, a decisive year in modern American politics, from which today’s bitterly divided country arose. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (7)

5-0 out of 5 stars Miami and the Siege of Chicago
Mailer is amazing. His hybrid novel/historical account method works spectacularly here. It seems he learned from his earlier foray into this style of work, "Armies of the Night," which, despite winning the Pulitzer and the National Book Award, was chunky and too focused on Mailer. Here, and with great acumen, Mailer personalizes the account where it bolsters, and no where else. The reader benefits from a retelling of the events by an observer as honed as Mailer, and for me personally - born nearly 20 years after the events contained therein - I can look to this book as a thorough resource for attempting to be "in the moment" at these conventions. I'd say this is an absolute must-read for political history buffs.

5-0 out of 5 stars Mailer's Genius
We've all heard the remark used too often to describe an egocentric's prerogative to
to be self-consumed and reticent to acknowledge the rights and opinions of fellow citizens: " It's his (her)world, we're just living in it..." There are infinite variations and elaborations , all headed for the same punchline no matter the navigation the teller chooses, with hardly an improvement on the insight. The phrase, in fact, is stale and in need of retirement.

The phase had been used recently in a chat I had recently with someone regarding the re-release of Norman Mailer's account of the 1968 Republican and Democratic Conventions, and the mention made me want reach for the imaginary lever for the equally imaginary trap door down which the utterer of petrified phrases would fall, the bottom chamber of which they would remain until they appreciate that cliches are no substitute for an original aside, a choice metaphor, a wild ride of associations that prove that one has been paying attention to the events about them.

Paying attention is precisely what the literary journalist in his nonfiction writings, and what Miami and the Seige of Chicago (blessedly reissued by NYR Books)shows is that for all his self-obsession, Mailer was no mere narcissistic punk considering the world his realm and its inhabitants his subjects. What gives the narrative its tension is Mailer's knack for addressing the world as he thinks it used to be what it ought to become and then confronting blunt facts that won't bend to his wishes, give in to his whims, follow a script he might have written.

Mailer is a counter puncher, to use his parlance, someone who reacts with a mind that brings details , thesis and counter thesis , call and response into spinning loops of image-saturated language. Miami/Seige , like a good amount of the nonfiction Mailer wrote during the sixties and seventies, is a richly nuanced , feverishly grandiloquent mid century reversal of Whitman's latter day desire to contain multitudes and find himself in each breath , phrase and circumstance of every American's story; Mailer, an early idealist who wanted to forge a revolution in the consciousness of the nation, as he announced in Advertisements for Myself, refuses bitterness and despair when his designs become moot and embraces ambivalence and irony instead.

This makes for a desireable place from which to wrestle with the things that irritate his senses and insult his intelligence.

3-0 out of 5 stars Blasts from the Passed
In August 1968 Norman Mailer attended the Republican Convention in Miami, then the Democratic Convention in Chicago. The past 35 years allows retrospection on his reports. Agnew and Nixon resigned in disgrace, and much has changed since 1968. Reagan has come and gone, elected past his prime. ("I don't know." Chapter 15.) Mailer attended the meetings to give his impression of the candidates and their supporters. Mailer's description of the hot humid air of Miami shows his literary ability and style. I swam through the waves of purple prose until I got seasick. These relentless waves carried my exhausted mind onto the sands of countless words. Mailer's quotes from Nixon's speech shows what a rhetorician Nixon was. Nixon "gave one impression and acted upon another"; but "when his language was examined, one could not call him a liar" (Chapter 14). Hence the name "Tricky Dick".

"Chicago is the great American city"; Mailer explains why. His description of a slaughterhouse again shows his rich literary style. Mailer backed Kennedy; he admired the mixture of idealism and trafficking with the overlords of corruption. Politics is property, you never give away something for nothing. If a politician is his own man, then he is ill-equipped for the game of politics (Chapter 6). Mailer says LBJ controlled the convention via Mayor Daley. It was the bitterest, most violent, disorderly, and uncontrolled in decades. Mailer analyzes the behavior of the candidates: Humphrey, McCarthy, McGovern, and others. Mailer discusses the protesters that came to Chicago, and the many organizations behind them. How many of the protesters were undercover agents? Why was the Democratic Convention a target? Was there manipulation of the protest organizations? Chapter 12 ends by saying the police targeted new photographers to avoid future evidence. Chapter 16 tells of the one-sided battle at Michigan and Balbo Avenues. Chapter 26 tells how Mailer was punched and almost arrested.

Mailer's description of the Convention listed many names who have passed from politics into the history books.Mailer puts a lot of himself into these reports; this is like a magazine article, not a newspaper story.

2-0 out of 5 stars Good For Historians Of The Period
This book is a true curio of the times, of interest mostly to historians of the period. Mailer fails to describe the details of what went on at the conventions, although he does give the reader `a feel' for events, and some of the snapshots he provides are good, especially those of the violence and terror of Chicago. In the end, the reader will be disappointed, both because of the failure to completely describe what is happening and because of the writer's verbose style and intrusive narrative devices. The writing style definitely is distracting and confusing, Mailers tendency to use bizarre metaphors and long wordy descriptions provides confusion rather than clarity. Recommended only as a companion piece to books like `The Making Of The President 1968'by White and McGinnnis' `Selling Of The President 1968'.

3-0 out of 5 stars mildly interesting
There's something really disconcerting about reading the nonfiction of Tom Wolfe and John McPhee wherein they describe events at which they are clearly in attendance but write in the third person.Someone must be overhearing the conversation that Wolfe so brilliantly reproduces and when folks describe their jobs in a McPhee essay, one assumes they are describing them to McPhee.Their absence from the text then becomes more intrusive than their presence would be, but, what the hey, they're two of the best writers of non-fiction ever to come down the pike, so we cut them some slack.Infinitely more annoying is the way that every hack writer on Earth who is assigned to write a profile of someone for a magazine, begins the piece by describing his own first meeting with the subject of the story, as if we freakin' care that the author ordered the shitaki on melba toast and Demi was ten minutes late for the interview.But topping them all for the most aggravating technique ever created is Norman Mailer who decided to include himself in his nonfiction but to write about himself in the third person, as "the reporter."This is not only a distraction when you are reading, it also just smacks of egotism run amok.Of course, this is Norman Mailer, the biggest publicity whore this side of Madonna, so that's exactly what it is, the attention grabbing stunt of a completely self-absorbed horse's rump.

That said, he does make for an irreverent, even ribald, chronicler of the 1968 conventions.His celebrity opened doors for him and gave him access to the placid doings of the GOP conclave in Miami and to the Democratic melee in Chicago.He uses his own distinctive patois of street tough language, acerbic commentary and apocalyptic hyperbole to recreate the mood, if not the actual events of the two conventions.But his analysis of events is completely laughable, teetering between the merely absurd and the genuinely deluded.Naturally, he revels in both the counter culture demonstrations in Chicago and in the somewhat heavy-handed response of Mayor Daley's police and the National Guard.Like Charlie Manson believing that Helter Skelter would bring about the revolution, Mailer thought that this kind of confrontation and the reaction it provoked revealed something about the strength of the youth movement on the one hand and weakness of American institutions on the other.In fact, these were pretty much the death throes of '60s radicalism.Just a few months later the American people would go to the polls and elect Richard Nixon, largely on the understanding that he would restore law and order to American society.And though his margin of victory was quite thin, it must be recalled that George Wallace received 13.5% of the vote; and I think it's safe to say that his voters disagreed with the kids who tried shutting down Chicago.Even as Mailer was predicting a new and glorious phase in some kind of class struggle, the electorate, the "silent majority" of Nixon's acceptance speech, was preparing to repudiate the radical movement by a truly staggering margin.

Interestingly, Mailer accidentally offers intimations of what was going on in the rest of the country when he is too revealing about what was going on within himself.The two most honest moments in the book are when he expresses how sick he is of listening to the demands of Black leaders:

[T]he reporter became aware after a while of a curious emotion in himself, for he had not everfelt it consciously before--it was a simple emotion and very unpleasant to him--he was gettingtired of Negroes and their rights.It was a miserable recognition, and on many a count, for if evenhe felt this way, then what immeasurable tides of rage must be loose in America itself?

Note both the utter condescension to the unwashed masses and the visceral sense that things had gone far enough.Add in the fact that most Americans were also sick of listening to limousine liberals like Norman Mailer tell them what to do, when they knew perfectly well that he felt like this in his heart of hearts, and the rage is only compounded.Mailer's slip peeks out again during the violence in Chicago when he acknowledges an illicit thrill at watching the police hammer protesters into submission.These instances offer him a chance to understand what is truly going on in the country, but his knees jerk and he goes right back to singing a Dionysian song of praise to the scum in the streets.

A journalist who gets so involved in a story that he misjudges it by as much as Mailer did is hardly worthy of the title.Instead, the author was a partisan observer whose analytical skills appear to be nonexistent and whose judgment appears to have been clouded by emotion, but whose hands on approach to the story makes for a whiff of the atmospherics of the time and some mildly interesting moments.

GRADE: C ... Read more

9. Marilyn: A biography
by Norman Mailer
Paperback: 381 Pages (1975-03)

Isbn: 0446718505
Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
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Almost two dozen photographers' pictures were used for the book. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (1)

4-0 out of 5 stars GREAT PICTURES...`interestingbiography
This book contains some of the best and last images ever taken of Marilyn. There are also quiet a lot of pictures taking on various movie sets, mainly "The Misfits". As highly as i recommend this book for thephotography alone, i can not totally endorse the written part by famouswriter Norman Mailer. He borrows heavily here from another biography andtouches on the theory that Marilyn was murdered..all without any proof. Oneget's the feeling that the text borrows also a lot from the Authorsimagination rather than fact. I would ordinarily give this book 5 Stars forthe pictures and the oversized format. Also..GREAT COVER! ... Read more

10. The Armies of the Night: History as a Novel, the Novel as History
by Norman Mailer
Paperback: 304 Pages (1995-01-01)
list price: US$16.00 -- used & new: US$8.25
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0452272793
Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
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The novelists interpretes and dramatizes the October 1967 anti-war demonstration in Washington and the issues and politics involved. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (21)

5-0 out of 5 stars Norman Mailer's great protest novel
Norman Mailer was the self-confessed bad boy of American letters. Notorious for his intemperance and violent outbursts he was, nevertheless, a superb craftsman who is able to grip and hold the attention of the reader right from the beginning of The Armies of the Night.
He admits he joined the campaign for peace in Vietnam with reluctance, but once involved he became convinced of the legitimacy of the cause.
In Australia, opposition to our involvement, in what was patently a civil war, and in support of a corrupt South Vietnamese government, was just as strong. Draftees were tearing up their call up papers - and some were gaoled. I was a school teacher at the time, but left my classes for an afternoon to join the Vietnam Moratoriummarch through the centre of Melbourne. I was astonished to see block after block filled with marchers kerb to kerb, because although I knew there was a lot of opposition to the war, I didn't realize so many would be prepared to march and risk arrest. The march was led by Labour MP Dr Jim Cairns, and I vividly remember seeing the waterside workers marching down the Collins Street hill from the other direction to join our group. Then we all sat down and sang some ant-war songs while the police looked benignly on.
Norman Mailers confrontation was much more violent, and he was arrested and gaoled. Throughout the novel he refers to himself in the third person, as an onlooker recording his impressions and describing the events that followed in vivid detail. He introduced us to Dr Spock, Mitch Goodman and Robert Lowell, leading activists and opponents of the war, as well as the pro-war group, who used every means at their disposal to discredit so-called communists and traitors.
"Mailer's final allegiance, however, was with the villains who were hippies. They would never have looked to blow their minds and destroy some part of the past if the authority had not brainwashed the mood of the present until it smelled like deodorant. (To cover the odor of burning flesh in Vietnam?)"
He was arrested by a US Marshal while 'perambulating around the Pentagon', and was placed in the rear of a Volkswagon camper which began to fill with other Pentagon demonstrators - then to an army truck - with a Nazi with whom he engaged in a contest of wills that ended peacably. Upon arrival at Occoquan they are fingerprinted, and Mailer picked his bunk in a dormitory next to Noam Chomsky. Eventually he was sentenced to 30 days in gaol (25 suspended) and fined $50. After a lot of arguing from his lawyer he was released on his own recognizance pending an appeal.
Finally he describes the confrontation - and the tactics used by both sides - that took place at the Pentagon between the demonstrators, the MPs, the troops and the US Marshals . . . "Slowly the wedge began to move in on people. With bayonets and rifle butts they moved first on the girls in the front line, kicking them , jabbing at them again and again with their guns . . . Mailer comments on the bravery of the young people who refused to leave - and he was among them - until the wedge beat through the last line,and the resistance was broken."The Learning Process: Some Creative Impressions

4-0 out of 5 stars The Armies of the Night
Norman Mailer gave a personal view of that time which included all different intellectual personalities perspectives. It was interesting how the country looked down on the protestors due to the race riots in the cities at that time! Also, it was interesting to see how the press protected the Democratic President and not give an accurate perspective of the war!Very Good Book!

4-0 out of 5 stars Read the History, Skip the Novel (I was There)
Forty years ago, Norman Mailer and I attended a major demonstration against the Vietnam War at the Pentagon.Our situations were very different.Mailer was then forty-four, an established author and celebrity, and a founder of the "Village Voice."He attended the demonstration in the company of the poet Robert Lowell (a conscientious objector jailed during World War II) and Dwight McDonald, a leftist contributor to the "New Yorker" and the "New York Review of Books."Mailer was the subject of a BBC documentary and was accompanied to the demonstration by a film crew.He was arrested early in the day for crossing a police line, spent a night in jail, and was released the following day after extensive efforts by his lawyers.

I was twenty-one, a penniless student in my third year at Antioch College.I was a comparative newcomer to mass demonstrations.Although I did not consider myself a pacifist, I was opposed on principle to military service, and I was opposed specifically to the Vietnam War.If drafted, I expected to go to prison. I did not go to the Pentagon to be disruptive, and I did not go to join the hippie "levitation/exorcism" exercise, which I considered juvenile.I attended with a Quaker who had been a conscientious objector in World War II, and a fellow classmate, who would become a conscientious objector.We felt it was important to make our opposition to Selective Service and the war visible.We had heard that some pacifists intended to commit civil disobedience (blocking doors or entering off-limits areas), and we went to support their action.I had neither the courage nor the self-discipline to commit civil disobediance myself at that point, and either arrest or injury would have been catastrophic for me.Simply participating was the bravest thing I had ever done in my life.

The week before the march had been marked by anti-draft demonstrations in many cities, and television news stories showing Oakland police beating demonstrators with riot batons were quite vivid in my mind.In the bus driving through Washington, D.C., to the staging area, I was startled to see the streets lined with paratroopers with fixed bayonets.Nineteen sixty-seven might have been the "Summer of Love" in San Francisco, but the summer had been marred by major riots in the ghettos of Detroit and Newark.Obviously, Washington city officials were afraid that the ghetto in NE D.C. might erupt.

I don't remember much about the march.I remember circulating through the grounds outside the Pentagon, trying to stay out of the way of the troops and MPs, trying to avoid getting clubbed, gassed, or arrested.The night was cold, and people built fires of abandoned picket signs.Eventually it was time to rendezvous with the bus home, and since there seemed little else we could do, my friends and I retreated to the bus back to Ohio.

Mailer was arrested early in the day, and I left late in the evening, so neither of us personally witnessed the systematic beating and arrest of hundreds of unresisting demonstrators by army units in an event called the "Battle of the Wedge" (reconstructed by Mailer from eyewitness accounts).A disproportionate number of those beaten were women.

It takes a certain kind of man to beat a defenseless, nonviolent woman with a riot baton.America had caught of glimpse of this kind of man during the Civil Rights demonstrations in the 1950s and early 1960s, men willing to use dogs and fire hoses against Negro children, but this was still seen as an aberration of the segregationist, racist South.It would not be until the following year when these men would gain greater visibility at My Lai, raping and butchering innocent women and children.It was white, middle-class America's introduction to the fact that "our boys" could be less than heros.

Mailer speculates at length why so much of the violence was directed at women, but I don't think his explanations suffice.For men who opposed the draft, the support of sympathetic women was crucial.Faced with accusations of being cowards and homosexuals, the love and compassion of activist women helped young men find the courage to resist induction and face prison and ostracism by society.(For an example, see the poster by Joan Baez and her sisters, "Girls Say Yes to Boys Who Say No".)Mailer says that soldiers at the Pentagon were "taunted" by hippie girls exposing their breasts, but he forgets about the "Summer of Love" and the counterculture affirmation of Life -- the hippie girls weren't taunting the soldiers, they were trying to remind them that there is an alternative to violence and death.Make love, not war.And for other women, opposing the war and the draft was a statement of their independence of the patriarchy.And that night, violent men took their revenge on independent women.

Mailer speculates that the demonstrators experienced a "rite of passage," and invites comparison with Valley Forge and the Alamo.He overlooks a far more recent rite of passage that I'm sure was uppermost in the demonstrator's minds -- the Civil Rights Movement and the profound courage exhibited during the Freedom Rides, the lunch counter sit-ins, and the march on Selma.

Sometimes Mailer sounds like refried Mickey Spillane.But this book must have been written quite hurriedly -- the march took place in October 1967, and the book was published in 1968.

"Armies of the Night" is divided into two books (I and II).Book I is divided into four parts (1-4).I would rate book II as a "5" -- if you want to understand the politics of the Sixties, book II is one of the best introductions you can find.If you're short of time, read book II and leave the rest.I would rate parts 3 and 4 of book I at "3", and I would rate parts 1 and 2 of book I at "1".

4-0 out of 5 stars The Novel as History, Indeed

The original review of Norman Mailer's Armies of the Night was posted just prior to the 2007 anti- Iraq War demonstration noted below. I have recently reread his book (May 2008) and have revised and expanded that review but have let that 2007 preface stand.

On March 17, 2007 various anti-Iraq War forces will converge on the Pentagon to oppose that war and to celebrate the 40th Anniversary of the original protest of that symbol of American imperialism during the Vietnam War (and `levitation' of the building according to some sources then, such as the late Abbie Hoffman). Whether such a celebration is called for under the circumstances of the Iraq anti-war movement's continuing failure to stop this war is a separate question to be left to another day. Today it is nevertheless fitting that Norman Mailer's Armies of the Night, about those several days forty years ago, should be reviewed with this upcoming event in mind.

In this novel as history (or history as novel depending what part you are reading at a given time) Norman Mailer tries, successfully for the most part, to use this literary trope as a means for closely investigating the action that he is witnessing (and taking part in).As I have mentioned elsewhere in other reviews of Mailer's books he will be eventually known in the literary pantheon for his journalism and musings on his life and his times.But not merely as a journalist in the conventional sense, those are basically a dime a dozen and eminently forgettable, but as an exemplar of the then `new' journalism. That concept got its greatest expansion in the later work of Doctor Hunter Thompson (`gonzo' journalism) but Mailer, and to a lesser extent, Tom Wolfe gave it legitimacy.

The premise behind this mode of analysis is that the reporter not prohibited from being an actor in the action he or she is covering contrary to the norms beaten into media students that one is suppose to be `objective'- detached from the action one is reporting. Now is not the time to expound of the virtues and vices of that `gonzo' method but to see whether it works in Mailer's exposition. I believe that it does.

To set the stage the Vietnam War, by 1967, had gone through various stages of escalation by the administration of Lyndon Johnson as it attempted to find a way to deal with the quagmire that it had created for itself in South Vietnam. The opposition to the war had also gone through several stages of political activity responding to those Administration acts of escalation. By the fall of 1967, working off a successful mass demonstration in the spring, the diffuse leadership of the anti-war movement (Old Left, New Left, New York intelligentsia and so forth) and especially one Dave Dellinger a central leader of the time, had decided that it was necessary to up the ante. Thus, the Pentagon, a very visible and direct symbol of American imperial power, became the focus for a proposed mass rally and various undefined acts of civil disobedience in October. As a long time opponent of the war and one almost always ready, despite some personally-driven contrary instincts expressed throughout the work here, to give something to the cause Norman Mailer steps into the picture. His personal saga informs the bulk of the book.

And what is that personal saga. Mailer originally signed up to bear witness to symbolic mass draft card turn in at the Justice Department and to speak. During the course of those few days in October, however, he got dragged into, not unwillingly for the most part, an act of civil disobedience that got him arrested, confined in various holding pens and finally released after a number of twists and turns worthy of a novel. Along the way Mailer described his fellow prisoners, their responses to their confinement, his responses to his legal situation and further musings on the nature (or rather de-nature) of American society at the time, the worthiness of the anti-war opposition movement and his own periodic leadership delusions of grandeur as he tries to place the event in context of an on going war against...well, plastic. Thus, he successfully fulfilled the basic premise of `gonzo' journalism- he was able to become mired in the center of the story but was also able through that process to bring out some home truths that one expects from a good journalist...or novelist.

The irony of fate of this book is that the part that Mailer spends the most time on, essentially the bulk of the book as an updated version of his perennial scheme of advertising for himself, is some forty years out the least interesting from a historic standpoint. I would say that the last twenty pages or so are what are important today for those of us who are trying to find our way out of the current quagmire in Iraq. Mailer, I believe, consciously and correctly tried to demonstrate that mere symbolic actions (including, in the final analysis, his own) would not bring the monster down. His own prescription however proved totally inadequate (and as echoed today continues to do so).

Mailer is rather unkind to the Old Left (Communists, Trotskyists of various hues, professional pacifists-the `plan' types) and their dependence on the centrality of the traditional working class, as well as the New Left kids (SDS, Draft Resistance, etc.- the `free play' types) and their dependence of `students and professionals' as the new working class. His position then seemed to be somewhere in the vicinity of an Americanized and sanitized version of Che Guevara's theories on guerilla warfare. Except that what Mailer is really postulating is the theory behind Guevara's work that it was necessary for a new cleansed `man' (and given his other known sentiments of the time concerning women I believe he was being exclusive here) to emerge to fight the monster. Norman, wherever you are, I believe that sentiment, if less articulately expressed than by you, already had its day with Bakunin and later with the Social Revolutionaries in late 19th century Russia. But Kudos for Armies. Adieu, Left Conservative.

1-0 out of 5 stars Maybe You Had To Be There...
I read Armies of the Night for a graduate school class.I found this novel/history very difficult to read.I would sometimes find myself reading a page over three times before I could get anything out of it.It was inaccessible, frustrating, and in short order I felt great hostility bordering on hatred for the author.For example, early in the book Mailer announces to a room full of people that he had just urinated all over the restroom floor when he could find neither the light switch nor the urinal.He is inebriated at the time.Perhaps he intended this to be a humorous revelation, I thought it was obnoxious.

Another example of Mailer's ego, is when he states early in the book that he is "probably willing to die" for the anti-war cause.This is revealed as macho swagger because at the moment of truth, Mailer is unwilling to even do a paltry five days in jail for the cause.He complains about the conditions in jail; he can't shave and his clothes get dirty.I thought the authorities were generous to provide everyone a bed to sleep in, as well as meals, coffee, and reading material but this was apparently insufficient for Mr. Mailer as he finds fault with all of it.

The book gets better when we leave Mailer's personal experience and are finally permitted to learn something about the brave young men and women who made up the heart of the protest.Some of the protesters spent the night in the cold outside the Pentagon, some were beaten by the guards, and others had water poured on them while they were sleeping.Unfortunately this part of the book is much briefer than Mailer's narrative.

For me, this book is ruined by Mailer's self-important posturing.If the author's goal was to make readers hate him, I think he succeeded.I have utterly no idea why this book won a Pulitzer Prize.Perhaps it is an example of the adage "you had to be there."I have read Mailer's other Pulitzer Prize winner, The Executioner's Song, and I liked it. This book however, was awful.
... Read more

11. Norman Mailer: MoonFire: The Epic Journey of Apollo 11 (GO)
by Norman Mailer
Hardcover: 348 Pages (2010-06-01)
list price: US$39.99 -- used & new: US$26.39
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 383652077X
Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars
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A unique tribute to the defining scientific mission of our time

"MoonFire is the greatest book I have ever seen. The photography is unparalleled...It is more than just a book, it is an experience." — David Schonauer, American Photo

It has been called the single most historic event of the 20th century: On July 20, 1969 Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin and Michael Collins met John F. Kennedy's call for a manned Moon landing by the end of the 1960s. A decade of tests and training, a staff of 400,000 engineers and scientists, a budget of $24 billion, and the most powerful rocket ever launched all combined in an unprecedented event watched by millions the world over. And no one captured the men, the mood, and the machinery like Norman Mailer.

One of the greatest writers of the 20th Century, Norman Mailer was hired by LIFE in 1969 to cover the Moon shot. His three-part feature was the longest nonfiction piece LIFE had published. He enhanced and extended his reportage with deeper reflection in the brilliantly crafted book, Of a Fire on the Moon, excerpted here for the first time. Equally adept at examining the science of space travel and the psychology of the men involved—from Saturn V rocket engineer Wernher von Braun, to the crucial NASA support staff, to the three astronauts—Mailer provides provocative and trenchant insights into this epoch-making event.

Illustrating this volume are hundreds of the best photographs and maps from the NASA vaults, magazine archives, and private collections. Many of them previously unpublished, these images document the development of the agency and the mission, life inside the command module and on the Moon’s surface, and the world’s jubilant reaction to the landing. This edition includes an original introduction by Colum McCann and captions by leading Apollo 11 experts, explaining the history and science behind the images, citing the mission log and publications of the day, and post-flight astronaut interviews.

The book you couldn't get your hands on is finally available in bookstores everywhere! Originally published as a TASCHEN Limited Edition, Norman Mailer's MoonFire sold out instantly and earned accolades from publications the world over.

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Customer Reviews (13)

5-0 out of 5 stars Blown away
I love Project Apollo. I have nearly 100 books on the topic, but nothing like Moonfire. Every time you turn a page there's a chance your breath will be taken away.

This is a loving tribute to our first trip to another planet. It's a blue print of the expedition - it's a time capsule of how we were.

Only $40 dollars? I would have paid twice that...

Thank you Norman Mailer for the thought provoking prose, thank you Amazon for making this available.

5-0 out of 5 stars A must have...........
If you love space exploration, this book is the ultimate item for your collection :Magnificent photos---> with gorgeous foldouts ¡ , the text is first rate ---> covers both technical & human parts of the mission, the book itself is a big, beautiful work of art, and the price oh my ¡¡ --- a Bargain ¡¡¡

Five Stars for MoonFire /0 Stars for Amazon why ?? the book arrived with some minor damage to the dustcover ( NO BUBBLE WRAP AT ALL )

5-0 out of 5 stars Make sure Amazon refunds your 2 day shipping if your a Prime Customer
I've been ordering copies of this book for over a couple weeks now and Amazon can not seem to fix the free shipping for Amazon Prime customers. It does qualify and they will refund you if you ask....but we should not have to ask.

dave rand

5-0 out of 5 stars MOONFIRE: The Epic journey of Apollo 11, Norman Mailer
What a great book.I am so glad this was originally published earlier and updated today.I also love the pictures. None of us who worked on Apollo got to see these. Norman Mailer is one of my favorite authors, too. He really describes accurately Apollo 11.
I know he consulted with Neil, Buzz and Mike on this book. I have some other Apollo books and this is one of the best.But it is pretty big and heavy.
I am a rare woman Aerospace Engineer who worked on the Saturn V during Apollo.All of our Astronauts have a special place in my heart.We sent them up to the moon and brought them home safely without one loss of life.

Sara Howard, Author of Something Funny Happened on the Way to the Moon

5-0 out of 5 stars Magnificent
This is a magnificent review of our spaceflight program up to Apollo 11 -- wonderful photos, prose, and history. A true telling of one of the greatest triumphs of humankind in science and technology and engineering. The only negative, it stops at Apollo 11, I wish the same treatment was available for the remainder of the Apollo missions. ... Read more

12. Marilyn: The Classic
by Norman Mailer
 Hardcover: 272 Pages (1994-01)
list price: US$19.98 -- used & new: US$55.40
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0883657317
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13. Harlot's Ghost: A Novel
by Norman Mailer
Paperback: 1191 Pages (1992-09-01)
list price: US$16.95 -- used & new: US$5.99
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0345379659
Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
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Editorial Review

Product Description
"The most daring, ambitious and by far the best written of the several very long, daring and ambitious books Norman Mailer has so far produced....Unlike just about every American writer since Henry James, Mailer has managed to grow and become richer in wisdom with each new book....There can no longer be any doubt that he possesses the largest mind and imagination at work in American literature today."
Narrated by Harry Hubbard, a second-generation CIA man, HARLOT'S GHOST looks into the depths of the American soul and the soul of Hugh Tremont Montague, code name Harlot, a CIA man obsessed. And Harry is about to discover how far the madness will go and what it means to the Agency and the country....
A Main Selection of the Book-of-the-Month Club
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Customer Reviews (48)

1-0 out of 5 stars mudd
One of most disappointing books I've ever slogged through.An uneventful and unexciting passing of time through the life of a CIA agent and major touch points in CIA history.1400 pages without crescendo or inflection.I wanted someone to shoot me when I was done reading this.The only reason I read to its end is because I thought it was impossible to write this much without really getting to a high point.To add insult to the mental injury, the book seems incomplete.As though Mailer needed more pages to drone on about the life of the lead character in a follow-on novel.I never wanted to burn a book until I finished reading this one.

4-0 out of 5 stars Mailer's Ghost
"Harlot's Ghost" is one of the most inconsistent novels that I have ever come across. I am admittedly a fan of Norman Mailer but his great strengths and weaknesses as a writer are on center stage in this seemingly endless novel about the CIA. As he so often did in his later novels, Mailer presents an interesting narration even if his narrator as a character is not that interesting. The first chapters are some of the most dynamic writing that Mailer ever produced but once Harry Hubbard, the son of one of the grand old men of the CIA and a prep school kid turned agent himself, begins narrating his formative years, the book starts to unwind. While Mailer offers interesting takes on Berlin in the 1950s, the Bay of Pigs and Operation Mongoose, the book encounters a serious detour when Uruguay becomes the center of attention. The narrator and his chief love interest are not particularly strong characters but Mailer shines when he plays puppet master on a number of real life people thrown in his novel-Alan Foster Dulles, E. Howard Hunt, William Harvey, even JFK and Bobby Kennedy (strangely enough Mailer almost totally ignores the enigmatic CIA leader Richard Helms). Parts of the book are brilliant and will stay with you, from the opening narration to a wonderful take on what happened in the CIA headquarters on November 22, 1963. But the reader has to slouch through some pretty long dull spots to encounter these scenes. Still, after well over a 1,000 pages, I was anxious to know what the final outcome was and hoped Mailer would produce the sequel that he promised. However Mailer never followed up on "Harlot's Ghost." 15 years after first reading the book, I still wonder how Mailer was going to wrap it all up. While not a great novel, this ambitious book remains a good one despite its many flaws.

1-0 out of 5 stars It's Not an Espionage Novel
I've worked for the government for 19 years and can attest that HARLOT'S GHOST has nothing to do with the CIA or the craft (and art) of espionage.Mailer has no grasp of the CIA's work, its personnel, the motivations of its officers and agents, or its tradecraft.The novel is a psycho-drama, with the typical cast of angst-filled and deviant characters.The CIA is an inconsequential backdrop of Mailer's story--he could've staged it in a meat-packing plant to the same effect, if not with the same public appeal and intrigue.If you're looking for Mailer's signature storytelling and prose, then buy the book or check it out and read it.(Please be advised, however, that HARLOT falls considerably short of Mailer's renown THE NAKED AND THE DEAD.)Another reviewer said that the film THE GOOD SHEPHERD drew material from his book.Perhaps, but I would guess that the script may actually have drawn only inspiration from HARLOT, if even that.THE GOOD SHEPHERD is a thinly veiled account of the life of infamous CIA counter-intelligence figure James Jesus Angleton.In my opinion, THE GOOD SHEPHERD seemed to be based more on nonfiction sources, such as the classic A WILDERNESS OF MIRRORS.In sum, you should read HARLOT if you're a fan of Mailer; if you're looking for good espionage fiction, for a story that tracks somewhat with the real CIA and its personalities, for a story that has some historical relevance, look elsewhere.

3-0 out of 5 stars A Long Time Getting There....
There is a pretty good 600 to 700 page novel in here.Unfortunately, this opus is 1300 plus pages so you can guess that I found a lot of excess in Harlot's Ghost.Frankly, there are reams of it, and a lot of it is pretty tough sledding to get through.

Before his passing, Norman Mailer cited Harlot's Ghost as one of the 5 or so novels he was proudest of and considered his best work.I can understand his pride because he had obviously done a prodigious amount of research for the novel and throughout the book you have the sense that he got a lot of the spycraft and the inner workings of the CIA right.He also caught the very WASPy air of the early CIA and its founders and practioners, and he recreated the Cold War mindset quite well.As I said, there is a very good book within this encyclopedic epic.

But there is an awful lot of rubbish too.I found all the frabba jabba about the Alpha and Omega theory to be silly.I found pages upon pages of elaboration that neither moved the story along nor offered any pertinent insights or interest.I found the object of our hero's romantic affection, Kitteridge, not very interesting, and many of their letters (which form a substantial part of the book) overdone, and overly precious.

The book finally picks up interest in the last quarter with its sometimes gossipy-but-accurate, anecdote-laden recitation of the Bay of Pigs fiasco, the Kennedy brothers, Castro, and the CIA characters involved.Having just read the history of the CIA in Legacy of Ashes, I thought Mailer fleshed all of this out quite well and entertainingly.

I am glad I finally forced myself to persevere in working through this monster, for in the end I found it a worthwhile read, although I wonder if some of my satisfaction is simply the fact that I finished the damn thing; but no, there was much that was quite good.I just found the jewel that is in there is buried amongst a ton of well-researched, but often extraneous and boring detail.Detail became filler.No, it wasn't the length of the book (I've read War in Peace twice and never felt that a single page could be cut), it was just an awful lot of the book spent a tremendous amount of verbiage to little effect.

Undeterred however, I am about to tackle Mailer's Ancient Evenings which looks to be another long haul.I'll let you know.

5-0 out of 5 stars Paradox is central to the story, to the CIA--read it and connect the dots on 9/11
This post-modern novel by Mailer is inarguably the most informed novel of the CIA.This is not callow, veneered, cinema-informed CIA, or any of the "tell-all" non-fiction embellishments of CIA activity.This is a psychological study of the necessary duality of agents, teased from the central soul of the duality of humankind.Mailer has a comprehensive insider's knowledge of the structure and workings of the CIA.

Paradox lives on every layer; the characters in this fiction, other than the main characters, are people such as Howard Hunt, Che Guevara, Marilyn Monroe, John and Robert Kennedy, Allen Dulles--and the list goes on.Mailer cheekily provides notes at the end of the book stating that changing the names to fictional ones would cause readers to say, "That is really Howard Hunt," or, "John F Kennedy," etc., "He just changed their names."By using their known names, he expects readers to say the opposite.There is a very thin membrane separating historical fiction from fact.With cozening and cunning guile, Mailer writes about cozening and cunning in the CIA.

The prose is gorgeous, with sharp imagery, layered references, wry observations, and poetic paragraphs.

This novel also has Mailer's most fully realized female character, Kittredge. She is a CIA psychologist specializing in duality of spirit in both academics and in her career.The public self, the secret self and the inner conflicts that cloud an agent's ethics and takes over his soul are well-developed in Kittredge, as well as in the characters of Harlot and Harry.

This book contains the intricacies of Cold War politics and treachery.I was deeply fraught after reading about Operation Mongoose (as well as other subversive operations) in all its explication.It allowed me to connect the dots better on the enigma of 9/11.I was deeply disturbed, enlightened, and exhilarated to read a colossal, mammoth, unafraid novel about how trespasses into other minds and other countries are accomplished; this does not exclude state-sponsored terrorism by our government.

This is astonishing literature and a spine-tingling filter remover.

Eric Roth (screenwriter of Forrest Gump and The Insider), heavily based the movie, The Good Shepherd, on material from Harlot's Ghost. ... Read more

14. Modest Gifts: Poems and Drawings
by Norman Mailer
Paperback: 288 Pages (2003-10-28)
list price: US$14.95 -- used & new: US$3.78
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0812972376
Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars
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Product Description
An unexpected collection from Norman Mailer—a book of his selected poems and more than one hundred of his drawings, most of them never before published. Modest Gifts is full of what the author calls “casual pleasures”—witty, naughty, and surprisingly tender verse and art. Lust, seduction, betrayal, jealousy, and even the banality of cocktail party chatter are depicted with humor, affection, and, above all, honesty. Here is an aspect of Norman Mailer unknown to many: lighthearted, prankish, whimsical, and often gentle, playfully sketching the intimate urban world that surrounds us. Modest, funny, and true, each poem and drawing shows a new side of one of the greatest writers of our time. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (3)

4-0 out of 5 stars It's nice to see that Mailer can be modest
I remember reading many of these poems years ago and wondering how Mailer dared call them poetry. They were slight little remarks, and sketches and did not have anything of the penetrating depth, the moving power of real poetry. They are a kind of light verse and have at times a certain humor. I remember Mailer writing then that he wrote these poems only because he was going through a time when he could write nothing of real importance.
I do not think it is a disaster or harms his reputation or his important books in any way. Most writers who are known are known for one or two of their works, and the rest go largely unread. These poems the 'promo material ' says show another side of Mailer, light, whimsical tender, etc etc. Perhaps.
But as he himself says he has always taken it to be the writer's task to deepen the reader's understanding and consciousness of life. These poems do not do this.
A smile here and a smile there may be found especially from the drawings.
The great advantage of the work is that you can read it fast, and forget it faster.

4-0 out of 5 stars God Bless Norman Mailer
After all these years some humble pie.Some of this is yet still too sour for our friends in Haters Review Row.Too bad.Norman Mailer is one of the greatest writers of our time, whether you like him or not.If you don't like him, don't waste your time "reviewing" his work, just go away and leave us alone, we don't need any more of your whining.This book gave me a lot of little laughs, and some "modest gifts" of insightful and not-so-great "poems" or "prose-snippets", whatever you would like to call them.It was a fun release from the more arduous "Of a Fire On the Moon" which I am currently reading.I just finished The Prisoner of Sex, written by Mailer in 1970-- quite an interesting take on the "Women's Lib" movement at that time-- a bit heady, but with other equipment as well (!)God Bless Norman Mailer, one of the last great American authors.

2-0 out of 5 stars Mailer's Genius is Not On Display with Poetry Re-Issue
I, like many, think that Mailer ought to win the Nobel Prize for literature for the sheer genius of his published over his fifty plus years as a writer. Few of his generation, or in generations following, have have the kind of profound successes in fiction, reportage, cultural criticism, and political essay.

Mailer has dared what other literary writers only feigned and actively engaged the world in ways and manners that he thought would make reality surrender some of its secrets. The hope, of course, would be that he might be able to change the way men and women viewed themselves in a political reality that had stripped the individual of all creative drive, and hence empower them to change the substance of their world. Grand ambition, yes, and a failed enterprise,but in the attempt are left a string of brilliant books -- "The Naked and the Dead", "The Executioner's Song", "Why are We In Viet Nam", "Armies of the Night", "An American Dream", "Harlot's Ghost",-- that, among others, form a body of work at once daring,daunting, vain and arrogant, preening, breathtakingly on target, raunchy , clipped, rich and rolling and lyrical like the grandest music. An infuriating writer, yes, but even so one who's work stands tall in the era in which he wrote.

This, though, isn't one of those books," Modest Gifts" being, at best, a gussied upreissue of a lone book of verse he produced in the early Sixties,"Deaths for the Ladies (and Other Diasters)".

Now, as then, the pieces are slight, skeletal, un-propelled by anything resembling a notion that the reader cares about. For a writer who's composed some of the richest prose and lyric flights this side of Faulkner and DeLillo, these efforts are so minimal that even averbal skinflint like Hemingway would call these gifts not modest ,but cheap. Mailer explains interestingly that these were put together at a bad time in his life when he could not compose--stabbing your wife will tend to
dampen your willingness to wax--and that he found something therapeutic in their existence, but there never has been a compelling reason for these things to be put between covers and sold. Unlike some, I think that a great writer's less great work, the unformed work, the jottings, the juvenilia,the notebooks, the scraps and orts, need to remain in the drawer, and not committed to the judgment of history. This poetry is so minimal that it can't even raise a stink. ... Read more

15. The Gospel According to the Son: A Novel
by Norman Mailer
Paperback: 256 Pages (1999-09-07)
list price: US$13.95 -- used & new: US$3.24
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0345434080
Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars
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Editorial Review

Product Description
For two thousand years, the brief ministry of a young Nazarene preacher has remained the largest single determinant of Western civilization's triumphs and disasters. Now, Norman Mailer has written a novel about Jesus's life. Is God speaking to me? Jesus asks. Or am I hearing voices? If the voices are from God, why has He chosen me as His son? And if they are not from God, then who gave me the power to perform these miracles?

It soon becomes evident that we are being told the story of a skilled and most devout carpenter who is living with prodigious questions. The result is an intimately readable account of a man thrust forward by the visions he receives, the sermons he offers, and the miracles he enacts until he comes to the apocalyptic end of his powers.

The Gospel According to the Son vividly recreates the world of Galilee and Jerusalem two thousand years ago. In a time of uneasy stability, the Holy Land is governed by a complacent but fearful establishment who rule over a despairing underclass -- it is a time of great change, open to comparison with our own. Mailer's signal accomplishment is to create for us a man wholly unlike others who is nonetheless filled with passion and doubt, strength and weakness; a protagonist divine and human, a son of God who shares our condition.

In The Gospel According to the Son, one of America's greatest living writers has brought us a remarkable book -- by turns bold, thoughtful, poetic, tragic, passionate, and, to our surprise and pleasure, suspenseful.

From the Hardcover edition.Amazon.com Review
In the two millennia since Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John wrotetheir separate biographies of Jesus, only a handful of other authorshave attempted renditions--Charles Dickens, Leo Tolstoy, andD. H. Lawrence have tried their hands at it; scholars E. P. Sandersand Raymond Brown have produced academic treatises on the historicalJesus. Perhaps the best-known fictional account of the life of Jesusis Nikos Kazantzakis's The Last Temptation ofChrist, which explores the Son of Man's all-too-humanside. Norman Mailer joins these ranks with The Gospel According tothe Son.

Not content to chronicle Jesus' life in the form of an apocryphalgospel, Mailer has the chutzpah to crawl inside his title character'shead and tell the story from the first-person point of view. Here weget the Prince of Peace's personal account of his temptation by Satan,his three-year ministry, and his agony on the cross. Mailer presentsan entirely new kind of passion play, one that remains faithful to theshape of Jesus' life as outlined in the gospels, while daring toimagine the inner life of this most elusive historical figure. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (70)

4-0 out of 5 stars The human side of the Gospel story
Christian doctrine teaches that the Gospels are the story of the life and death of Jesus of Nazareth, the Son of God and Savior of the world.But none of the Gospels was written until a generation or more after Jesus was crucified, and then largely by men who weren't present to witness the events they wrote about.How would Jesus tell his story, if he were to write his own account of his life?Here is a highly sympathetic telling of that story from Jesus' point of view.While orthodox nit-pickers will almost certainly find details here to offend them, this account is generally true to the traditional Gospel stories.At its best, this novel is a powerful reminder of the humanity of Jesus.As portrayed here, Jesus was a man who struggled to understand his role and to cope with his emotions.This story also fleshes out the context of Jesus' life, providing details about the times and places he lived in, all of which helps us understand the import of his life and message.This is a powerful story, providing the reader with insights to ponder and perhaps with a greater appreciation of the Gospel story.

5-0 out of 5 stars A Sweeping Exploration of the Past, Valuable Lessons for Today
With impeccable scholarship and poetry of prose, Norman Mailer takes a novel approach in exploring the life of Jesus; a novel from the perspective of Jesus, in his words.

The 242 pages contain some of the strongest writing by Mailer, with not a wasted word in this highly-convincing look into story-telling, traditions and the never-ending struggle with the ego contained in the self & the games of attempted manipulation by others to gain advantages in the arena of personal power.

Not only a sweeping exploration of a history that changed the world, there are urgent lessons for today that emerge from this universal story of love, life and betrayal.

4-0 out of 5 stars what if Jesus had a chance to set the record straight?
One man has changed the world more then any other, His weapons?Love, Faith and Hope. This Jewish carpenter has had wars started in His name, religions started and divided over exactly what He said and what His intentions were. He has saved millions and given new life to countless dead souls. His love for us was so great that He gave His life for us sinners. His words and actions are, of course, recorded in the New Testament many years of His death and resurrection. In this amazing book, Norman Mailer tries to imagine the mind of Jesus, what his thoughts were as He went through his many travails, The Wedding at Cana, the rising of Lazarus, His rant at the Temple. The stories will be familiar but the point of view is from the thoughts of Jesus rather then a disciple or someone there. It is an amazing feat which I thought captures the purity of Jesus and the conflicts. I found this book to be inspirational and beautiful.

3-0 out of 5 stars In the eyes of the perp
Every person's take on events is different. Talk to four crime witnesses and the reality probably lies within the tetrahedron described by such threedimensional triangulation. Read four gospels and do the same. But there is always another point of view. The "perp" in TV crimeshowspeak. Norman Mailer has constructed a career and a brilliant reputation on slipping into the shoes of famous perps;the present volume continues his tour de force. Why has no one previously attempted to relate the central Christian tale from the viewpoint of its central character? Dunno. In a published interview, Mailer said his nudge came while visiting his Baptist wife's very Baptist southern hometown -- where his Jewishness made him an object of curiosity, question and friendly debate. Mailer's rendering is highly readable, plainly and artfully told, and resonates with simple truths. Whatever one might believe Jesus to be/have been, there was surely a human side to the man which was largely glossed over in the official religious tracts. Mailer gives us a master carpenter whose wisdom has been honed through fourteen years of apprenticeship, whose understanding of people and politics is pithy and profound. A miracle workerunsure of his limits (rousing Lazarus was chancy -- he had been dead awhile and was decaying), and a humble messiah at pains to point out that Matthew, Mark, Luke and John were given to hyperbole (though he understands they were only doing their best to "enlarge their fold"). Altogether, a surprisingly fresh and even suspenseful treatment of a story that can hardly have a surprise ending. Whatever your chosen faith, as long as God and Mammon grapple for our hearts, there is value in a new lookat the story of one who clearly dissevered that which we owe to Caesar from that which we owe to ourselves.

5-0 out of 5 stars The Gospel according to the Son
Norman Mailer takes us on a journey with Jesus in a new and enlightening way. It drops the mask of divinity given to us by the church leaders and endears us to Jesus in all facets of his life. I find this new slant invigorating,refreshing, and more honest. It brings to life a character that I CAN believe and admire. I heartily recommend the purchase of this book by all. I bought it for me but since reading it, I will buy it for others. Get it,read it, and pass in on. (Just don't let someone take YOUR COPY). Thanks Norman for this truly insightfull look into Jesus's life!! ... Read more

16. The Executioner's Song
by Norman Mailer
 Paperback: Pages (2000-10)
list price: US$27.91
Isbn: 0606192174
Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
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Editorial Review

Product Description
Winner of the 1980 Pulitzer Prize

In what is arguably his greatest book, America's most heroically ambitious writer follows
the short, blighted career of Gary Gilmore, an intractably violent product of America's
prisons who became notorious for two reasons: first, for robbing two men in 1976, then
killing them in cold blood; and, second, after being tried and convicted, for insisting on
dying for his crime. To do so, he had to fight a system that seemed paradoxically intent on
keeping him alive long after it had sentenced him to death.

Norman Mailer tells Gilmore's story--and those of the men and women caught up in his
procession toward the firing squad--with implacable authority, steely compassion, and a
restraint that evokes the parched landscapes and stern theology of Gilmore's Utah. The
Executioner's Song is a trip down the wrong side of the tracks to the deepest sources of
American loneliness and violence. It is a towering achievement--impossible to put down, impossible to forget.Amazon.com Review
The Executioner's Song is a work of unprecedented force. It isthe true story of Gary Gilmore, who in 1977 became the first person executedin the United States since the reinstitution of the death penalty. Gilmore, aviolent yet articulate man who chose not to fight his death-penalty sentence,touched off a national debate about capital punishment. He allowed NormanMailer and researcher Lawrence Schiller complete access to his story. Mailertook the material and produced an immense book with a dry, unwavering voiceand meticulous attention to detail on Gilmore's life--particularly hisrelationship with Nicole Baker, whom Gilmore claims to have killed. Whatunfolds is a powerful drama, a distorted love affair, and a chilling lookinto the mind of a murderer in his countdown with a firing squad. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (88)

1-0 out of 5 stars Interesting topic...Poor book
I finished this book mostly just to say I did. I lost interest almost immediately, but this is "classic literature" right, so I gave it a chance. This is the most long-winded account I have ever read. Norman Mailer must have been paid per word. I really don't understand the rave reviews, I would never recommend wasting the amount of time it takes to finish this book. The story could be told in ample detail in half the pages. Unless you enjoy reading about people that have nothing to do with the plot of the story, I would avoid this book at all costs...unless you need a doorstop.

5-0 out of 5 stars Breathtaking
Executioner's Song was one of those books that took my breath away.From Mailer's sparse Utah twanged journalistic prose to the profile he created of Gary Gilmore and the people around him.I am so thankful for my college professor for recommending this book to me.He had come up to me and said "you need to read this book, it will blow you away!"With a recommendation like that I had to take the plunge.I was familiar with Mailer before I read Executioner's Song, having read The Naked and the Dead.I loved that book and still consider it one of the best books of any war period.Mailer's personal life was interesting as well.He was a big Hollywood celebrity with all kinds of hip friends.He was also kind of crazy; trying to kill his wife, being sent to an asylum, and getting in fights with Gore Vidal on a daily basis.Yet within this very public figurewas a genius writer who wrote this amazing novel Executioner's Song.The size of it is enough to scare anyone away, but the joy you take in reading it is well worth the time.Any true lover of reading will find this book a joy to read.Mailer deftly creates a perception of Gilmore that is very open ended.Yes he did kill two people in cold blood and was executed by firing squad, but Gilmore and Mailer's story is so much more than that.This book really made me think not only about life and the extent of which we or the government control it, but also about capital punishment and the jailing system in America.On the one hand you can look at Gilmore's case as a man getting what he deserved or at the other end as murder begetting murder.Wrestling with these opinions is a look at the jailing system in America.From a very young age Gilmore was stuck behind bars, spending 20 of his 35 years in jail.He would be let go only to mess up and be put back in.Mailer never points blame at one person or another.Instead he constructs the novel very much like a journalist would or should present a story.Along the way the reader encounters many flawed but truly human characters like Nicole Gilmore's girflt, his Uncle Vern, cousin Brenda, and agent/friend Schuller.I did enjoy the first half of this book better then the second half, but that in no way takes away from the novel.In the end I was spell bound and honored to read such a profound and moving story.To me Mailer remains one of the greatest writers of the 20th Century and I look forward to reading more of his novels.Don't be afraid to embark on this epic journey.Executioner's Song is a song and novel you won't forget!

5-0 out of 5 stars crime and punishment
Gary Gilmore (12/4/40) died 1 17 77 at 8:07am.
After being shot he took 20 seconds to die.He
wore a blue hood, black t-shirt and white pants.
He sat in a chair with a mattress and sandbags
behind him. Blood came out of the bottom of
the shirt. Then an autopsy was done and he
was sent tobe cremated around 2:30pm and
by 5pm he was ashes.

The Executioner's Song is a true classic.

A great novel by Norman Mailer (1-31-23 /
11-10-2007). THE BEST OF THE BEST. It was
a huge undertaking.

The story begins when Gary is released from
prison and paroled to relatives in Utah.Chapters
on working, meeting space cadet Nicole, drinking
beer, taking pills,stealing, 2 murders, trial and the
fight to die. We are given detailed information.

Gary had to die.He could never be in a prison cell
again. He could not cope being locked up so he
ask the state to kill him. He was a game show play-
er and the name of the game was KILL ME !

Itwasthe way for him to commit suicide.It would
be the Mormon's form of BLOOD ATONEMENT.

He deserved to die and he knew it.

Gary was an abused child but the evil he did had
nothing to do with that.He was bad to the core.It
was no fun being a good citizen. He was a wild
animal, crude,rude and un-tamed.

This book is a must read.You should also read
SHOT IN THE HEART by his brother Mikal Gilmore.
Mikal'sbook is more about Gary's family life. There
are Gilmore family photos.A family gone horribly

This was a re-read and it was just as good as the
first time I read it....better even.I first read it in

It is 1056 pages and weighs 3.5lbs.Your arms
tinglewith fatigue trying to read it.

There are no photos.I think there should have been.

Since there were no pictures I kept seeing TommyLee
Jones and Roseanne Arquett in my mind.They were
perfect for the part.

4-0 out of 5 stars It is beautiful, that confounding way.
A killer killed is "The Executioner's Song" by Norman Mailer.

And how beautiful that is - the ingratiated direness ethereally evoked, the gratuity, the death, gregarious in reaching forth - and reaching forth is book conjecturing not why, but what in personification of that pulchritude... Reaching forth is a book of which warped inimically within are the caricatures and caricatures defiant - the inimitable bindings lyrically straightforward and somewhat forward pursuing, forward persuading in opposition of the seemingly self-defiant length. It conjoins voices, of Gary, prisoner engulfed in treacherous temerity, of Nicole, amorous lover intrigued in that treacherous temerity, of all else treacherous, of all else of temerity...together, together in prison rhymes, together in the "Deep in my dungeon I welcome you here. Deep in my dungeon I worship your fear. Deep in my dungeon I dwell. I do not know if I wish you well."

Singing before living are they.

They are those within those obscurity-drenched travesties, coordinating contorted perspective of subordinate, those "kind of quiet" subordinate matters into something not subordinate. The engulfment of gratuitous, greater realms, stoic disposition set - wrenching are those not so subordinate, whether for life, whether against life. All is abided, whether that malicious mutiny engraved towards one's self, in a book concrete of a topic abstract. Norman Mailer doesn't attempt to explain, but explained it is nonetheless.

It is simplistic- yet sometimes languidly lacking, yet sometimes unfathomably fulfilling in the melancholy mélange of protruding progression. Yet, that song of dire desire is a tempered resolution throughout, ravenously reaping forth of sophistication- the winter, spring, summer, to the harvest of an auspicious autumn. And the accompaniment, the harmonies perhaps discordant, perhaps not always harmonious to that unrelenting song are the details minute, the letters earnestly embodying pernicious pain of unknowing, of knowing too much, of thrusting themselves because they do not know otherwise. The supposed implications, the supposed irrelevancy, of characters are those whose names are forgotten, but not forgettable- intricate to the immense intimacy lead to. And the ifs, the mays, the uhs is treacherous- a travesty turbulent, transcending throughout life unmapped and the inscription further unmapped in chapters, in parts, in books captiously cascading. The sophistication is eminent, if not beginning, then eulogy-enunciating end.

All is worth it. All is together in the "Deep in my dungeon I welcome you here. Deep in my dungeon I worship your fear. Deep in my dungeon I dwell. A bloody kiss from the wishing well." (1050)

It is simple, that condescending way. It is beautiful, that confounding way.

4-0 out of 5 stars An American Master
While the great American novel has not yet been written Mailer has come close several times and this is his best book.It is haunting from star to finish.Everyone should pick up THE EXECUTIONER'S SONG. ... Read more

17. Conversations with Norman Mailer (Literary Conversations Series)
Paperback: 420 Pages (2008-02-01)
list price: US$25.00 -- used & new: US$2.48
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0878053522
Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars
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Conversations with the genre-bending creator of The Naked and the Dead, Executioner's Song, and Armies of the Night ... Read more

Customer Reviews (1)

5-0 out of 5 stars good intro into hismiasmic mind(see also cannibals and chri)
i finally found one no one has reviewed! anyway i strongly recommend this book for anyone who is interested in norman mailer but maybe doesnt want to go thru a novel to get his ideas.Norman is an articulate person and the format of interview and dialogue here places his ideas and opinions in the center without allowing to much superfluity.
he talks about...running for mayor of new york, making films, women and men, vietnam, media(there is a good discussion with m macluhan too) politics, sex, art, writing...
that said i should say that i rented it from the lib, but it really is concise and informative with a minimum of repetition.
(and if you want a similar read but more essayish find "cannibals and christians"). ... Read more

18. The Fight
by Norman Mailer
Paperback: 240 Pages (1997-09-30)
list price: US$13.95 -- used & new: US$8.06
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0375700382
Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
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Editorial Review

Product Description
Norman Mailer's, "The Fight" focuses on the 1975 World Heavyweight Boxing Championship in Kinshasa, Zaire. Muhammad Ali met George Foreman in the ring. Foreman's genius employed silence, serenity and cunning. He had never been defeated. His hands were his instrument, and 'he kept them in his pockets the way a hunter lays his rifle back into its velvet case'. Together the two men made boxing history in an explosive meeting of two great minds, two iron wills and monumental egos.Amazon.com Review
There are sporting events that transcend the world of sports,and the 1974 heavyweight title fight in which Muhammad Ali regainedhis crown by improbably kayoing George Foreman in the middle of theAfrican night was certainly one of them. Metaphorically, it was awriter's dream: two imposing black warriors, one all grace, the otherbrute force, one the iconoclast, the other the blind patriot, battlingeach other. Fatefully, the appropriate writer threw his pen into thering. Norman Mailer's masterful account goes far beyond the ropes tocapture the primal ethos of the sport, the larger social canvas thisparticular fight was drawn on, and the remarkable cast ofpersonalities--not the least of which is Mailer himself--who convergedto make this "Rumble in the Jungle" a landmark in sportshistory and a clear knockout in Mailer's journalistic portfolio. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (23)

4-0 out of 5 stars This was definitely something.
This was my first time reading Mailer, and I'd never really read something written with that kind of self-important style before, and I didn't even know what to expect going in. But I enjoyed the book quite a bit for what it was and what it wasn't.

The description of the fight was tremendous and Mailer's take on both fighters was so distinct and fantastic that you really felt as though you were there. There's something to be said for being able to persuade the reader toward the view of Foreman being the heavy favorite so long after the events have already been written in history.

Mailer writing himself in the third person seemed perfectly fine to fit in with the African religious themes he describes, and it just gives a flavor to the book that I didn't expect going in. Definitely recommended if you have an interest in classic American authors, combat sports, or feature-length in-person journalistic accounts.

5-0 out of 5 stars Ali vs. Mailer - A great read!
If ever two egos needed to meet, these were the two.Only Norman Mailercould've made a Muhammad Ali-centered event like "The Rumble In The Jungle" so much about himself.And yet in his way, Mailer makes one want to read and re-read every page.He crafts a tale that makes it easy to sense the chaos preceding a heavyweight title fight, as well as the almost universal expectation that Ali was simply going to get himself killed by George Foreman.I loved Mailer's attempts to draw out Ali, and loved Ali's constant tug-of-war with Mailer, "the press" and the Foreman camp.Were the small cracks in Ali's confidence real, or was it part of the show?Did he use Mailer, or did Mailer use Ali?Having watched the fight many times over the years, I knew how the book would end.And yet I was enthralled by the ebb and flow of Mailer's thoughts as the fight approached and unfolded.No newspaper account...this is a marvelous take on a legendary sporting event, and well worth reading as a fight fan or a literature fan.

5-0 out of 5 stars My first influence as a writer; I'm sad as I write this.
Norman Mailer died today.He was my first and maybe largest influence as a writer.(Those who admire and dislike my books have often compared my voice to Mailer's.)THE FIGHT was my introduction to Mailer.It's certainly among the best writing about Ali and about the act of boxing.I wish I'd made the opportunity to tell Mailer of his influence on me.And, heck, I wish I'd had the chance to box with him.

I'm sad this afternoon.I'll miss this outsized, ridiculous, singularly talented person.


5-0 out of 5 stars Mailer At His Self-Indulgent Best
Norman Mailer delivered a classic in his coverage of the October 30, 1974, "Rumble in the Jungle," in the May 20th Stadium in Kinshasa, Zaire, when heavy underdog Muhammad Ali shocked the world one more time with his 8th round knockout of champion George Foreman.

Referring to himself in the third-person, Mailer captures the various angles of the fight that was oftentimes more interesting with the personalities and controversies outside the ring.

There are interviews with George Plimpton and Hunter S. Thompson - the Gonzo journalist who could go toe-to-toe with Mailer in the world ego championship - along with the bitter Joe Frazier and vastly underrated contender Ken Norton. This was Don King's first boxing promotion, who got into the game with a boost from Ali.

While Mailer gives perhaps the best sketch of Ali's famous cornerman, Drew "Bundini" Brown, it is nearly a throwaway comment on what appeared to be Ali struggling at times with his quick quips that may have been one of the earliest signs of what became permanent neurological damage.

Going into the fight, Foreman - who earlier in his pro career enlisted Sonny Liston as a sparring partner - was considered unbeatable, with fears that Ali would get severely hurt in a heroic, but losing effort. After the loss, Foreman claimed - though later recanted - that his water bottle was tampered with & he was drugged.

Foreman also claimed - but also recanted - that members of Ali's had loosened the ring ropes, so his punching power was negated by Ali leaning his upper torso & head far outside the ring.

The Fight is not the typical coverage of a sporting event, but Mailer proved to be up to the task and delivered some of the best writing in his storied career.

5-0 out of 5 stars Right Hand Jab...
Kinhasa Zaire...1974...One of the most publicized and adored fights of the 1970s, and what better writer to depict the settings than Mailer. This book was a tough find until '96 when the legendary documentary, "When We Were Kings" was released. Mailer's descriptions of the fight throughout the film were compelling enough to make me search out his read.

Many people forget that the fight was postponed for two weeks by Foreman's camp, and the fight almost didn't go off, which leads to chaotic story. Mailer's settings in the Zaire heat and his descriptions of icons such as Hunter Thompson, George Plimpton, Jim Brown, and Don King roaming the lobby of Zaire's Inter-Continental Hotel are so good that you'll feel as if you've been thrown back for two weeks through a time-machine to 1974. A true time period when sports was straight-up for men's men

Now, I'm not so into the romaticized Ali depictions seen through the eyes of Michael Mann, 'limo liberals' and other misinformed academians, and I will never adopt the modern day pre-fabbed tributes to Ali. Accompany this read with a viewing of "When We Were Kings" or with a read of Thomas Hauser's "King of the World" and Mark Kram's "Ghosts of Manila", and you'll catch my drift.

Avoiding a Ali tribute, Mailer loves the sport of boxing, and it shows throughout the book. "The Fight" is a great read that depicts a chaotic time, Zaire, the characters and the life surrounding the classic fight.. Lead with a right-hand jab, and pick this read up. -BD 5/03 ... Read more

19. The Lives of Norman Mailer: A Biography
by Carl E. Rollyson
Hardcover: 425 Pages (1991-10)
list price: US$26.95 -- used & new: US$2.72
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 1557781931
Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars
Canada | United Kingdom | Germany | France | Japan
Editorial Review

Product Description
A biography of the American writer discusses Mailer's major works, from "The Naked and the Dead" to "Harlot's Ghost," and reveals the man behind this often misunderstood genius. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (1)

5-0 out of 5 stars A very good read
Leon Edel said this about my biography: "A low-keyed narrative of the novelist and journalist from enfant terrible to grizzled sexagenarian designed to seek out the literary artist behind the mask of self-advertisement.Complete with domesticity--sweethearts, wives, progeny, and four-letter words.A very good read." ... Read more

20. An American Dreamer :A Psychoanalytic Study of the Fiction of Norman Mailer
by Andrew Gordon
 Paperback: Pages (1981-06)
list price: US$14.95
Isbn: 0838630669
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