Michael's Reviews > An American Dream

An American Dream by Norman Mailer
Rate this book
Clear rating

An utterly ridiculous, oftentimes despicable novel. Its greatest merit is that it is short. Offensive attitudes toward women (as is true of pretty much all of Mailer), toward the underclass, toward sex and violence, toward everything. Ugh. But compulsively readable. And, if its title is taken to mean anything, this violent, soft-porn soap opera of a novel is intended as a portrait of America's dream of itself in the mid-sixties, and its hero someone males of the time might secretly aspire to be. Though here, of course, Mailer takes every cliche of spy fiction, thrillers, soft-core whatever, and blows it out of proportion to make it all near pornographic. If this is the American dream, we're a pretty sick country.

That's the generous read of this. The less generous read is that Mailer's issues are the same as the novel, and that the title is a way to cloak those issues with a portentousness that will redeem the work. But whether or not Mailer is as guilty as the reader of the book, the title does call into question scores of assumptive behaviors from genre novels of the sixties, things people gobbled up without a thought.

So it's either brilliant or repulsive though likely, being Mailer, a perfect mix of both.
6 likes · flag

Sign into Goodreads to see if any of your friends have read An American Dream.
Sign In »

No comments have been added yet.