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Wolfman 11 Donating Member (444 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Sep-21-03 11:34 PM
Original message
Favorite Norman Mailer Book?
I must admit, the first Mailer novel I read was "Tough Guys Don't Dance". I thought it excellent and then I started delving deeper. I read "American Dream", and "The Armies of the Night", which was extraordinary. I truly believe one of the best novels of this past century is "The Naked and the Dead". It seems timeless to me. Then I read "The Executioner's Song" and was convinced of Mailer's importance. So my question to the crowd is: Which one has had the greatest effect on you? I am now reading "Owald's Tale" and have high hopes for it. What does everyone esle think about Mailer? I see him as the man who laid the groundwork for questioning questionable government in our era.
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Girlfriday Donating Member (570 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Sep-21-03 11:38 PM
Response to Original message
1. Sorry, I've never read Mailer,
I like Barbara Tuchman, I guess I'm more of a history freak. I did see the movie "The Executioners Song" and really liked it. Does that count?
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roughsatori Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Sep-21-03 11:39 PM
Response to Original message
2. Genius and Lust: A Journey Through the Writings of Henry Miller
Edited on Sun Sep-21-03 11:41 PM by roughsatori
I also liked: The Naked and the Dead. I really like an old essay
by Mailer: "The White Negro."
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Wolfman 11 Donating Member (444 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Sep-21-03 11:43 PM
Response to Reply #2
3. if you like Henry Miller
You will undoubtedly like Norman Mailer. Mailer was a huge Miller fan, as am I. I believe that the two of them, along with Joseph Heller, have defined the last half-century of American Literature.
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roughsatori Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Sep-22-03 12:04 AM
Response to Reply #3
7. I've read about every thing Miller wrote
Including some juvenilia, and found manuscripts. He moves me in a way very few writers of prose have.
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VOX Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Sep-21-03 11:51 PM
Response to Original message
4. He's apologetic about "Naked and the Dead," but it's a hell of a read...
Heard him once say that it (his first novel) was amateurish, but I can't see it. He also said that "The Deer Park" taught him how to write, but I don't have much feeling for that one. IMO, "American Dream" is his best novel.

Mailer's criticism also is first-rate. I often pick up "Pieces and Pontifications" and read bits of his high-octane observations. I particularly enjoy his piece on his encounters with television, "Of a Small and Modest Malignancy, Wicked and Bristling with Dots."

A serious misstep, however, was "Ancient Evenings." I couldn't even attempt to articulate just what the hell he was trying to do with that novel. I found it impenetrable, and rather nauseating in some arcane way.

Mailer gets banged around for his past sexism, his confrontational manner and windbagginess (again, mostly former behaviors), but it's a bad rap -- the proof is in his writing, and much of it is breathtaking.
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Wolfman 11 Donating Member (444 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Sep-22-03 12:00 AM
Response to Reply #4
5. re: Ancient Evenings
I have tried to read this, with no avail. It seems to me a departure from his characteristic ability to identify with some form of the American Public. I have loved every other story he has ever written. Have read "Naked & Dead", "Deer Park", "Barbary Shore", "Armies of the Night", but "Ancient Evenings" was always a challenge. Now I am content to try to wrestle with "Oswald's Tale", but it is on my own terms. He is definitely the greatest American writer of the past 50 years, but his importance is very hard for many people to understand. Thus I am adaptable.
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VOX Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Sep-22-03 02:11 AM
Response to Reply #5
8. I should give "Deer Park" another go...
Difficult to articulate, but sometimes a book doesn't click with a reader for numerous reasons -- prevailing mood, state of one's life --dozens of intangibles.

Perhaps it's time to take another crack at it...
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roughsatori Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Sep-22-03 11:48 AM
Response to Reply #8
10. I could not get through Deer Park either
and after this thread I will pull it out and try again.
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ronzo Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Sep-22-03 12:04 AM
Response to Original message
6. I loved that Marilyn book..
it was a friend to a young man.
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caledesi Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Sep-22-03 04:10 AM
Response to Original message
9. Executioner's Song - One of my all-time favorite books.
Gary Gilmore's release on parole and his eventual execution. One helluva read.
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