- Paperback: 274 pages
- Publisher: Flamingo; (Reissue) edition (17 April 2001)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0007115288
- ISBN-13: 978-0007115280
- Product Dimensions: 17.6 x 11 x 2 cm
- Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars See all reviews (14 customer reviews)
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 628,453 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
An American Dream (1960s Classics) Paperback – 17 Apr 2001
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More About the Author
‘Mailer writes like an angel – a master of small surprises that are precursors of seismic shocks.’
London Review of Books
From the Back Cover
"Mark Twain might have been more popular than Norman Mailer, and Hemingway more influential, but neither of these writers ever had so many thousands of people at their feet – and at their throats."
NEW YORK TIMES
'I was irritable suddenly, a sign of fatigue, the only sign of fatigue I could feel: my adrenaline had lit a new fire for the new drink. Sometime in the next hour of the next day would come a moment when I could lie down, when I would sleep – when I would try to – and then the memories of this night gone through would rise like the mutilated corpses of a battlefield, stare back at the battered face of Deborah which rose from each corpse.'
"Mailer writes like an angel – a master of small surprises that are precursors of seismic shocks."
LONDON REVIEW OF BOOKS
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Top Customer Reviews
The core of the book is a simple tale of the battle between the good and bad forces within a man's soul. The lead character and narrator of the story, Stephen Rojack, is not for the most part a bad person, and yet his actions are occasionally very bad indeed. By the end of the very first chapter, Rojack has already committed a single brutal act which will propel him forward into a life of deceit and fear and eventual tragedy.
From that moment onwards he becomes a victim of his own defiant temerity before his nation's laws and the morality of a culture he does not particularly value. His lack of conformity and his intelligence combine to destroy him, and at the end of the book it his only his primitive courage, the quintessence of his being as a man, that he is expected to rely on. The fates, angered by his gall, are left to exact their revenge via another to whom he has grown close during the whole ordeal. Thus eventually he receives his comeuppance, albeit indirectly.
Here we see Mailer depicting with great enthusiasm and earnestness the criminal elements of New York, and combining this grim setting with the inner thoughts and meditations of a man open to new interpretations of the world. The influence of writers such as Burroughs and Henry Miller are clearly visible in the incredible wealth of metaphors and the very obliqueness of the perspective which he takes on so many subjects.Read more ›
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.
I think you have to take Mailer as you find him - warts and all. Despite the novel's sleazy veneer, the central character's numerous reprehensible qualities, the obsession with sex etc, the quality of the writing still draws you in. Even Mailer off form is miles ahead of most novelists.
Ultimately the novel's title is apt. We are left with a trashy tale that may just be the fantastical ramblings of a protagonist who has been morally (and possibly physically) dead since World War Two.
I bought this after reading his Tough Guy's Don't Dance, which was very good indeed, and having the desire to read another of his works decided to tackle this one which came with mixed reviews so I thought it may provide something of a challenge.
I needn't have worried. Mailer's characters and dialogue are second to none and you'd believe he was writing about people that he had met and spent some heavy-duty time with.
Read this book with an open mind and you'll be rewarded.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Excellent book - very exciting read as it shows a time when lifes expectations and reality were very different. Read morePublished 24 days ago by Old Skooler
Somehow I missed this one. Loved every second of it. Absolutely could not stop reading this weird wonderful novel of a man on the verge of suicide and an almost accidental... Read morePublished 19 months ago by Frank Leguen
This novel, for want of a better word, is pathetic. I've had my misgivings about Mailer ever since I read "The Fight" - and this childish book simply confirms, for me, that the... Read morePublished on 7 Dec. 2012 by Rusty
arrived on time for christmas, as the book was a present for a friend. very pleased with service, and the present went down well. thanks again.Published on 13 Jan. 2012 by Annie C
This is a searing indictment of American life at a particular point in time but also a compellingly readable novel and classic Mailer.Published on 30 Nov. 2011 by Media Mogul
A well written and entertaining story of the lives of upper-class Americans and the treachery and intrigue that go hand in hand with success and privilege. Read morePublished on 1 Sept. 2009 by nicholas hargreaves
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. Read morePublished on 14 Aug. 2009 by J C E Hitchcock
If one chooses to strangle one's wife in her New York apartment, what is the best way to make the murder look like a suicide? Read morePublished on 5 Oct. 2008 by Amazon Customer