Deer Park Hardcover – 1 Mar 1969
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The Deer Park ranks with F. Scott Fitzgerald's The Last Tycoon and Nathanael West's The Day of the Locust (Newsweek)
Brilliant and illuminating (New York Times) --This text refers to the Paperback edition.
From the Back Cover
Desert D'Or is the fashionable Californian resort where Hollywood's glittering élite converge when they need a break from the city of celluloid dreams. It is an incestuous hothouse of a town – a haven for manipulators, film stars, lovers, pimps, producers, whores, gamblers, scriptwriters and cheats.
Into this nightmare world of depravity arrives Sergius O'Shaughnessy, recently discharged from the Air Force, traumatised by his war experiences and trying to write the Great American Novel. But O'Shaughnessy's burning ambition begins to lose its edge as he is drawn deeper into the reckless lives of Charles Eitel, the disgraced film genius, Lulu Meyers, the egomaniacal young movie star and the seedy, perspiring studio chief Herman Teppis. Lured by greed and ruled by weakness, O'Shaughnessy soon becomes disturbingly familiar with the dangerous life of slick compromises and sexual follies…
Mailer's third novel, 'The Deer Park' is a powerful and vigorous satire on Hollywood's excesses and corruptions. Combining a savage imagination with a heightened documentary realism, Mailer painted an uncompromising and terrifying portrait of a society in moral confusion and despair.
“It is the peculiar insight and power of 'The Deer Park' that it does not present its unhappy conditions sensationally, but as though they were common enough, which they are, and as though people succeeded in living with them for years, which they do. As a Hollywood novel, 'The Deer Park' ranks with F. Scott Fitzgerald's 'The Last Tycoon' and Nathanael West's 'The Day of the Locust'. It speaks for promising, gifted people anywhere who have succumbed to their appetites and lost their spirit among the singularly intricate temptations of the modern world.”
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Top Customer Reviews
Mailer is asking us about the point of patriotism, I think. "Patriotism is for pigs" says a director on the black list, and "Patriots feel strongly and think weakly" notes the narrator. What better example of patriotism can be found than a military serviceman? They are Patriotism personified. So, what does a grateful country offer one of its loyal servants when their time in uniform is up? Mailer gives us the answer: nothing.
It happens that Sergius drifts into a world of debauchery and indulgence, but this is just as empty a world in terms of its moral backbone as the gutter and back-alley scraps between hobos and junkies. Mailer gives his protagonist a well-tailored, sexually promiscuous, boozed-up abyss with no meaning or pay off for his dedication to the flag. It makes for a warmer poverty than can be found on the streets, but poverty it is.
Mailer was far too intelligent to be a patriot, and that is what vibrates at the heart of this book: serving your country is for nought. It is a wasteland that awaits you afterwards, and that wasteland comes in many distracting disguises.