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The Big Empty: Dialogues on Politics, Sex, God, Boxing, Morality, Myth, Poker & Bad Conscience in America
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The Big Empty: Dialogues on Politics, Sex, God, Boxing, Morality, Myth, Poker & Bad Conscience in America

3.28  ·  Rating details ·  72 Ratings  ·  11 Reviews
Questions are posed, writes Norman Mailer, "in the hope they will open into richer insights, which in turn will bring forth sharper questions." In this series of conversations, John Buffalo Mailer, 27, poses a series of questions to his father, challenging the reflections and insights of the man who has dominated and defined much of American letters for the past sixty year ...more
Paperback, 218 pages
Published January 24th 2006 by Nation Books (first published January 3rd 2006)
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Neil H
Feb 26, 2017 rated it really liked it
This is my first book from Norman Mailer and in this his views on various ideas are given a voice. Most is entertaining and somewhat illuminating. The analogies that he shares about boxing as a primal and yet possible constructive social help is simpler in its execution. His views that individuals efforts in understanding morality and philosophy lite can be made sense of in classic novels was interesting (I'm not a book fiction person). Yes, his sharings provide interesting read and I am looking ...more
Ted Burke
Oct 16, 2012 rated it did not like it
Norman Mailer was one of the best interview subjects of the second half of the 20th century, an imaginative , provocative, often brilliant mind who could start lengthy debates with his proposistions no matter how absurd they seemed. People get old, though, their energies, physically and intellectually, flag or harden into crusty things no longer alluring to the mind and eye, andNorman Mailer was no exception. The ideas he pus forth here in his chats with son John Buffalo Mailer are piecemeal run ...more
Kent Winward
Jan 01, 2017 rated it really liked it
I was wishing I could hear Mailer on 2016.

One comment from my notes when I was reading this:
"You are so young that you still believe in the power of individuals. The hard fact which I would like to see you develop in you my friend over the next ten years is a deeper sense of social structure. Because society is paramount. It is as if we are little animals running through the machine. Occasionally we touch a switch. Something starts. We start another little machine, but we can't really alter the
May 08, 2008 rated it did not like it
I was trying to get a better sense of writing guru Norman Mailer... but this book of previously published Q & A-style interviews between Mailer and his 25-year old son was a little dissapointing. Maybe it's because a lot of the political analysis is a few years old... and maybe it's because I'm not sure Mailers son is more qualified than I am to assert his opinions about the state of the world. Oh well, the library got in the Mailer book I was waiting for, so hopefully I'll like that one bet ...more
Matt Sadorf
Dec 16, 2012 rated it really liked it
This was an interesting and entertaining book. It consists of discussions between a father and his son, covering many different topics.

I really enjoyed getting to read what Norman had to say about various topics just a few short years before his passing. John Buffalo Mailer leads the discussion at times, and puts his two cents in as well, which is great for showing the difference in generations.

This is one of those books that you might have to be in the mood for, if you choose to read it, but if
Jul 21, 2010 rated it liked it
The book is a repetition of most of the Mailer interviews we can find on the internet. It's not really bad though there's nothing new to it. (Mailer's positions on war, America, Iraq ...)
I would have found a better interest if John Buffalo had intervened more often and if he had confronted his father more. He merely asks questions as if he did not dare to share his positions. Overall, it is a decent book but I still feel like something is missing. Perhaps other subjects should have been addresse
Chris Salisbury
Apr 07, 2008 rated it liked it
Mostly a great book simply because it's an interview between John Buffalo Mailer, Norman Mailer's youngest kid, and Norman Mailer. Apperently it is mostly comprised of a series John did for Playboy with some other dialogues thrown in. There is some interesting takes on life, politics and boxing.
Jan 31, 2014 rated it liked it
Really thought provoking!
Feb 10, 2011 rated it really liked it
A series of casual father-son conversations that will probably appeal to fans only.
Matthew Matheson
Jan 28, 2008 rated it really liked it
Shelves: owned-books
Read more of Norman Mailer's books.

Also read: (paste on other books)
Dos Capital-1949
Mailer on Nixon
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Norman Kingsley Mailer was an American novelist, journalist, essayist, poet, playwright, screenwriter, and film director.

Along with Truman Capote, Joan Didion, and Tom Wolfe, Mailer is considered an innovator of creative nonfiction, a genre sometimes called New Journalism, but which covers the essay to the nonfiction novel. He was awarded the Pulitzer Prize twice and the National Book Award once.
More about Norman Mailer
“Great hope has no real footing unless one is willing to face into the doom that may also be on the way.
More quotes…