Mailer's tour de force. This monster book (+1000 pages long)tells the true story of an intelligent convict on parole in 1976, falling into his bad ways, and meets destiny calmly.
Mailer tells the story as an old Greek bard - in the end, it seems the only way things could have happened. Mailer gets into the skin of most people involved or related, describes their feelings (perfectly understable), measures the impact on America (wow! a convicted killer demands a right to die, overruling his own defence, apparently supporting the idea behind the penal code etc).
The other main storyline is oddly a love affair (also factual, not fictional) between the convicted and a girl. It is essetially a story of two social drop outs, two drifters but nevertheless really 'gelling' to use a modern term.
Doesn't bore for one bit. Good story on the madness of the US criminal system, the criminals, their families, their victims the press. In a way it shows that people in the end care (mainly about their own interests) and at the same time be totally careless, cyanical. Makes you think about society.
Of course, Mailer being Mailer, a lot of sex, drugs and violence are on the pages, but do not dominate the story.
The whole thing just takes you by the hand & after the 1000-odd pages, a big sigh & many thoughts pass.