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An American Dream by Norman Mailer
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An American Dream (original 1965; edition 1999)

by Norman Mailer

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742612,554 (3.37)12
Member:aguenin
Title:An American Dream
Authors:Norman Mailer
Info:Vintage (1999), Edition: First Thus, Paperback, 288 pages
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An American Dream by Norman Mailer (1965)

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Showing 5 of 5
After doing a little research on Norman Mailer, I decided to read something of his. I happened to get this book for free from a friend, so it made sense to start with this one.

Three things come to my mind after reading this book: violence, metaphorical language, and great writing. This book is entirely about violence, but Mailer uses beautiful language techniques (similes and metaphors) that help romanticize violence in a way that I've never experienced before. Also, Norman Mailer knew how to write! His prose is very deep, philosophical, and beautiful...even though he was a horror of a human being while living.

I must say, this book did not let me down. I know I will read others by Mailer now...but I have to take a break after reading this bleak view of humanity. ( )
  rsplenda477 | May 29, 2013 |
Putting American in the title of a book doesn't make it great. This book seemed much longer than its length; I found the writing turgid. The contents of Stephen Rojack's psyche is everything in this novel: what he smells; the plight of the intellectual beating, fucking and drinking all comers under the table. Rojack has a world view I could not identify with, but I did not find him an interesting enough creation to want to look at the world through him eyes, or smell it with his twitching canine nose.

The plot seemed flimsy and contrived, characters would expose to Rojack a story about their past and it often led to a bunch of dead ends - or a pat coincidence - are there only 10 people in all of the United States? At some points I thought, maybe this is a satire, is there something darkly comic at the heart of this? Maybe, it didn't make me laugh. If you want to read a book about transgression and haven't yet read American psycho - read that instead of this - it's much funnier. ( )
  rhondagrantham | Nov 5, 2011 |
Few modern American novels have ignited more controversy and contention than this story of Stephen Richards Rojack, war hero and congressman turned professor and television personality. From the moment Rojack murders his maddening wife and begins his desperate flight through the underground of the city and the soul, the reader is caught up in a tale of savage sexual and psychological candor, dazzling social observation, and intense moral relevance. Onto this environment Mailer impresses is singular imagination, creating a classic world of action and horror that takes on the dimensions of an American myth. ( )
  ygNYC | Aug 18, 2006 |
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Mailer, Normanprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Kliphuis, J.F.Translatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0375700706, Paperback)

Stephen Rojack is a decorated war hero, a former Congressman, and a certified public intellectual with his own television show. He is also married to the very rich, very beautiful, and utterly amoral Deborah Caughlin Kelly. But one night, in the prime of his existence, he hears the moon talking to him on the terrace of a fashionable New York high-rise, and it is urging him to kill himself. It is almost as a defense against that infinitely seductive voice that Rojack murders his wife.

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 Rojack 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. Sensual, horrifying, and informed by a vision that is one part Nietzsche, one part de Sade, and one part Charlie Parker, An American Dream grabs the reader by the throat and refuses to let go.

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:43:15 -0400)

(see all 5 descriptions)

War hero, ex-Congressman, a professor of 'popular but somewhat notorious reputation', television personality and husband of the rich and beautiful Deborah ('a girl who would have been bored by a diamond as big as the Ritz'), Stephen Rojack lived the "American Dream". But his enviable life concealed a strange tension, the constant 'itch to jump', and when one day he finally cracks and strangles his luscious wife, he unleashes a personality of undreamt-of ferocity. A wanted murderer, Rojack is suddenly catapulted into an alien world of gangsters, crumbling tenements and downtown bars. Here, he meets Cherry, a small-time singer who ekes out her living in sleazy nightclubs, waiting for a break.… (more)

(summary from another edition)

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