|Cover of the first edition.|
An American Dream then is not what you would call light reading!! To our modern eyes the subject matter won't appear so controversial as it did in 1965, but if you look at the era it was written in, it must have been shocking stuff indeed! It has two sex scenes that are graphic without vivid descriptions. The sodomy scene must have raised quite a number of eyebrows, and yet Mailer doesn't use clinical words for what is going on. He superbly dances around it, along with the violence, by his complex word usage that leaves an indelible picture in the readers mind.
This novel is a beautiful embodiment of literature, and why An American Dream is so utterly impossible to ignore. It is regarded as an important work of American literature. But the flaw is that, whilst I love its complexity, the premise is too often abstract, disappearing and reappearing, leaving the reader at times wondering what is going on. As a piece of straight literature it is superb even though it is considered one of Norman Mailer's lesser works.
A short dazzlingly, breathtaking, albeit flawed, masterpiece. If you want something to really stretch your reading abilities then this is the novel for you! Amazon has this with 3 1/2 stars from 32 reviews. Probably a fair mark, and I guess due to its abstractness more than anything.