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Of a Fire on the Moon by Norman Mailer

Of a Fire on the Moon (1970)

by Norman Mailer

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Part historical account, part survey of the zeitgeist, part early Apollo myth-making, Mailer's "Of a Fire on the Moon" is presented here in a glossy, chunky edition full of crisp historical photographs that pair well with Mailer's contemplative, wide-ranging prose. There's probably as much Mailer here as there is Apollo but what's the point in art if you can't recognise the artist?
  sockatume | Jun 15, 2019 |
Norman Mailer's version of the Apollo 11 moon landing is interesting, though rather self-absorbed. It began as magazine coverage, but Norman made it into another of his studies of the effects of media and technology on American Life. ( )
  DinadansFriend | Feb 3, 2017 |
Extraordinary, I am so glad to have read this. Mailer's use of the third person 'Aquarius' is awkward, but works once you get the hang of it. As someone that isn't old enough to remember this (I was born during the last Apollo Mission, 17), this really brought home the experience, especially in dealing with the astronauts as men doing an incredibly tough job. Mailer, writing in 1970, also successfully anticipates the 70s: 'Yet even this model of the future was too simple. For the society of the rational and the world of the irrational would be without boundaries... Sex would be a new form of currency in both worlds - on that you could count. The planner and the swinger were the necessary extremes of the computer city, and both would meet in the orgies of the suburbs." ( )
  kcshankd | Jun 16, 2016 |
Not bad as a history of the Apollo moon-landing, but if you read this the likelihood is that you're more interested in Mailer than in astronauts. On that level, Mailer as "New Journalist," the book ranks quite highly — though definitely not comparable to The Executioner's Song and perhaps not quite even on the level of The Armies of the Night or Miami and the Siege of Chicago. Still, it's quite good.

Look, Mailer is probably love-him-or-hate-him for most readers. Personally, The Naked and the Dead is my favorite war novel and I think The Executioner's Song may be an even better book — and I think both of them, and in any event The Naked and the Dead, should be "must reads" for everyone. But if you're not the admirer of Mailer that I am, then Of a Fire on the Moon may be more of a book to skip over. ( )
  CurrerBell | Nov 30, 2015 |
Mailer's account of Apollo 11 begins with the death of Ernest Hemingway. It ends with his unsettling realization that he is about to divorce his wife. In between is an ambitious, scary, daring, edge-of-bombastic, utterly unexpected and urgent blast of prose that taught me more about the moon launch and that year and those times than any book I've read before. Mailer is always trying to get past the obvious thought. His power to observe and his ability to see significance in the smallest gesture or fact or event makes this an extraordinary book. I'm really upended by it. Some of the sentences were perfect. Others left me thinking, ok, this guy tried to wrench something amazing from this string of words and didn't make it...but even so I was stunned and grateful to know that he had tried at all, instead of staying in the safe borders of the expected. I don't understand why this book is a somewhat neglected work of a somewhat neglected writer. I can't recommend it enough, for anyone interested in understanding this decade of American history. ( )
  poingu | Jan 29, 2015 |
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Compiles the reportage Mailer published between 1969 and 1970 in Life magazine: gripping firsthand dispatches from inside NASA's clandestine operations in Houston and Cape Kennedy; technical insights into the magnitude of their awe-inspiring feat; and prescient meditations that place the event in human context as only Mailer could.… (more)

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