Nov 12, 08
I have mixed feelings about this book. It didn't quite have the vitriol of Thompson when describing Nixon, and it didn't quite capture the terror and excitement of the protests in Grant Park.
While Mailer can paint a beautiful portrait of pomp and circumstance, as well as behind-the-scenes political theatrics at their finest, I didn't completely believe he had a firsthand account of the events that he captured. His third-person narrative and hoaky use of the term "the reporter" stifled and confined what could have been a more vivid, raw account of some of the most thrilling moments in American history.
I was also infuriated with his forty-page, indulgent analysis of the inconsequential intricacies of the DNC stump speeches before he finally launches into:
"We have been present until now at an account of the Democratic Convention of 1968. It has not, however, been a description of the event. The event was a convention which took place during a continuing five-day battle in the streets and parks of Chicago between some of the minions of the high established, and some of the nihilistic of the young."
He later goes on to dissect what he thinks is the ideological make-up of the "nihilistic" in a very ill-informed, condescending manner. While he did hit the streets with the protesters, the narrative still feels too isolating.
Basically what upset me the most was that he admits to indulging in the most uninteresting details first and holding off the most important historical events as they occurred. Big mistake--never underestimate the inverted pyramid.
Norman Mailer: taking the "Journalism" out of "New Journalism."