Tuesday, December 27, 2016

The Naked and the Dead by Norman Mailer

Mailer's splashdown as a novelist, a WWII novel he wrote when he was 24.   Awesomely precocious, covering about three dozen points of view and beautifully set down.  Gore Vidal prissily panned it, in his usual sharp words:  "...informed by a naïveté which was at its worst when Mailer went into his Time-Machine and wrote those passages which resemble nothing so much as smudged carbons of a Dos Passos work."

It is much, more better than that, although it is remniscient of Dos Passos.  For a 25 year old to have written it in 18 months, it's astonishing.

His gelid eyes were very blue... he was efficient and strong and usually empty and his main cast of mind was a superior contempt toward nearly all other mean.  He hated weakness and he loved practically nothing.  There was a crude unformed vision in his soul but he was rarely conscious of it.

Yeah.  And an anger would work in him.  They had torn at each other once, had felt sick when they close together and other people were with them.  Now, in sleep their bodies intruded; there was always a heavy limb in the way.  And the nights together working on them, this new change, this living together between them like a heavy dull weight, washing dishes and mouthing familiar kisses.

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