Why this book?
An American Dream beats with the pulse of some huge night carnivore. It’s a wild story set in Manhattan with its protagonist, Stephen Rojack, drunk, dismally in debt, and trapped in a kind of purgatory he calls “marriage”. What I particularly like about this novel is Mailer’s writing style. It is magical in that he somehow combines the gritty talk of a hipster with the edgy rhetoric of psychiatry. What comes out of that confluence is a prose as sharp and effective as a switchblade. This novel, I believe, redefines the American crime novel by presenting the most extreme of our realities–murder, love, and spirit strangulated, the corruption of power and the sacrifice of self to image, all of it mix mastered into murder, booze, and heat-and-serve sex. A masterpiece that stands the test of time.
Why should I read it?
What is this book about?
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 Stephen Rojack, a decorated war hero and former congressman who murders his wife in a fashionable New York City high-rise, 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. One part Nietzsche, one part de Sade, and…