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The Deer Park

3.27  ·  Rating Details  ·  774 Ratings  ·  47 Reviews
Amid the cactus wilds some two hudred miles from Hollywood lies a privileged oasis called Desert D'Or. It is a place for starlets and would-be starlets, directors, studio execs, and the well-groomed lowlifes who cater to them. And, as imagined by Norman Mailer in this blistering classic of 1950s Hollywood, Desert D'Or is a moral proving ground, where men and women discover ...more
Published October 2nd 1997 by Little Brown and Company (first published 1955)
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The Executioner's Song by Norman MailerHarlot's Ghost by Norman MailerThe Fight by Norman MailerThe Naked and the Dead by Norman MailerAncient Evenings by Norman Mailer
Best of Norman Mailer
14th out of 68 books — 5 voters
Hollywood Girls Club by Maggie MarrAlways Dangerous by Dee J. AdamsLiving Dangerously by Dee J. AdamsDanger Zone by Dee J. AdamsMiss Lonelyhearts / The Day of the Locust by Nathanael West
Hollywood Novels
45th out of 50 books — 66 voters

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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 1,365)
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Ian Not His Real Name
Flaws and Applause

For all its flaws (and they are both numerous and substantial), "The Deer Park" is still one of my favourite novels of the 1950's.

It deals with two personal interests and obsessions: radical Left-wing politics in the United States from the 1930’s to the 1950’s (including the House Un-American Activities Committee) and Hollywood (the two of which coincided in the Hollywood Blacklist of 1947).

I should also mention that it deals with the relationship between the sexes in as explic
Jul 24, 2008 matt rated it did not like it
I read it a long time ago, it worked reasonably enough as a novel but there were way too many moments in which I felt stormin' norman's sweaty, heavy hands all over F Scott Fitzgerald's delicate and subversively limpid material.

This is coming off the sagging failure of "Barbary Shore" and Norm's trying to talk himself out of his gloom, paranoia, and wife-shanking by trying to tell himself he can "do" Hollywood. He can't. Not really. He gets the booze, a little bit of the desert, the sex-as-power
Mar 02, 2008 Alexandra rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: would-be artists, lovers, fighters, cheaters, drinkers
An exquisite portrait of the relations between pride and desire. Also a great commentary on the artist's condition and a reference point for the jaded, the morally corrupt, the promiscuous and the unsure.
Apr 04, 2015 Corey rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: did-not-finish
It's quite rare that I don't finish a book. Usually, once I start reading something, I have a kind of compulsive urge to finish it, no matter how bad or how dull. Occasionally, however, there comes along a book that overpowers me with its banality and mediocrity, a tome that forces me to set it aside and move on.

The Deer Park, for me, is one such book. At the urging of a professor who is helping me with something I'm writing, I sought out a copy and started to read it. After all, I thought, it'
Ke Huang
Aug 07, 2012 Ke Huang rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
While this book was almost considered obscene when it was published, I would say that it is quite mild according to our contemporary tastes. Despite its beautiful language, I found the plot and organization a bit shoddy.
A real teeth-gritter, this may be the longest 375-page novel I have ever read. And I am a Mailer fan.

The novel is initially somewhat interesting. It is set in a thinly disguised Palm Springs that is populated with characters out of early fifties Hollywood. These folks are coping with the fallout from House Un-American Activities hearings (most significantly a character who seems to be modeled on Elia Kazan); with having too much money and time and no real moral compass to guide them as they dis
Paul Gleason
Sep 13, 2014 Paul Gleason rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The Deer Park was probably a better read when it was first published in 1955. Its exploration of sex and violence - and the way in which these two forces are at the heart of the "American Dream" - is fearless. It must have been very shocking back in 1955, before the world had been exposed to Burroughs and Selby, and Lady Chatterley and Tropic of Cancer were still banned.

The book is plotless because it has to be. Mailer creates a social milieu - Desert D'Or - which reminds one of Palm Springs, an
Jun 22, 2010 Hillery rated it it was ok
Mailer's satiric take on the corruption and shallowness of post WWII Hollywood. Set in a fictionalized Palm Springs in the late '40s, it tells a story (his?) of an Air Force pilot just out of the war who winds up in the town to try to write a book and to decide what he wants to do with his life. He falls in with the Hollywood crowd that comes there frequently. The subject matter and the premise interest me. However, not much happens; none of the characters are likable; Mailer's writing style is ...more
Feb 22, 2010 Slanted rated it did not like it
Basically a boring book by a very talented writer. At the beginning there are all of these Nick Carraway-esque opinions which is great, but after that nothing much happens. People have sex, people get depressed, depressed people have sex, sex makes people less depressed, people sell out, sell-outs have sex, sell-outs bail on their friends. And that is pretty much the book. Plot need not count for everything, but if your characters are bland and there is no digression then all you have left is pr ...more
Mar 13, 2010 علی rated it liked it
پارک گوزن، یک رمان کلیدی استعاری از پارکی ست که در واقع در منطقه ی هالیوود در پالم اسپرینگ، وجود دارد و خاصان هالیوود در آنجا به سرگرمی و استراحت می پردازند. قهرمان رمان، سرگیوس اوشاونسی، افسر تازه بازنشسته ی نیروی هوایی، که میل دارد نویسنده بشود، تباهی شرورانه ی اخلاقیات هالیوودی را مشاهده و تجربه می کند. عنوان کتاب از پارک گوزن ها، که لویی پانزدهم برای سرگرمی و لذت شخصی با زن هایش درست کرده بود، وام گرفته شده است.

مطلبی کوتاه در مورد نورمن می لر، در جایی دیگر
Daniel Cunha
Dec 30, 2010 Daniel Cunha rated it really liked it
I really enjoyed this book for its realistic, gritty yet almost loving and longing portrait of post-WWII hollywood in all its glamour, hyprocrisy, and ability to create and consume dreams and lives. Each character is facing life changing choices, temptations, corruption, in its most seducing - the way they meet them, and how they play off each other assuming different roles at every juncture is what caught me in this book. Great read.
Kim Fay
Jan 21, 2014 Kim Fay rated it really liked it
I'm trying to figure out why it took me a year and a half to read this book when I truly enjoyed it and much of it is genius. Maybe because it was written by Norman Mailer, who I have issues with (despite how good he is). Or maybe it's just one of those things. All I know is that it managed to stay with me during those eighteen months, giving me food for thought and igniting moments of great admiration for Mailer's skills. In this 1955 novel about a Palm Springs-like retreat in the California de ...more
Brian Fagan
Jan 30, 2011 Brian Fagan rated it really liked it
Keeping in the context that it was written in the mid-50s, the book is a fascinating curiosity for it's depiction of sex. Kind of like Peyton Place in Hollywood...with those red commie bastards. Great for any fans of Norman Mailer. You can see an author experimenting to find his voice. That's pretty much what the book is, an experiment.
Gordon Howard
Apr 13, 2015 Gordon Howard rated it really liked it
Could have been as good as The Great Gatsby, with which it has many similarities. But Mailer's ego got in the way - his narrator character doesn't stay in the background like Nick Carraway, and as a proxy for Mailer is very unbelievable. This also leads to problems with narrative continuity, as the novel switches from first person, to third person through the lens of the first person, to straight omniscient narrative. But the novel has great set pieces, such as a party near the beginning that ec ...more
Ted Burke
Oct 19, 2015 Ted Burke rated it liked it
Mailer's third novel, The Deer Park, finds the author searching for a style suitable to his ambitions of being the literary genius who finally sets the world straight on matters of love, destiny, masculinity, sex, betrayal, all that good stuff.

Mailer failed with the ambition, of course, but we have to love him for trying to swing the bat so that it crack the loudest and result in the the ball not just leaving the park, but the planet as well. Many great books were written him, most of them a br
Mark Noble
I reread Norman Mailer’s, The Deer Park, his third novel and originally published in 1955. It is not a great book and I will not take much time on it. It is remarkable for two reasons. First, it is the last of Mailer’s “traditional” novels for a while. In his next book, Advertisements for Myself, he begins to mix journalism with fiction, creating his own very personal style. Secondly, Mailer fought hard to keep portions of the book in publication despite the resistance of several publishers who ...more
Lisabet Sarai
Nov 22, 2013 Lisabet Sarai rated it liked it
This early novel by Norman Mailer takes place in a fictional desert resort a few hours from Los Angeles, probably modeled after Palm Springs. Mailer chronicles the follies, excesses, affairs and schemes of a group of individuals tied to the movie industry. The book is dark to the point of despair, a painstaking exposition of the ways we lie to one another and ourselves, especially about sex and love. I can't say I really enjoyed it, but I felt compelled to read it to the end, almost the way one ...more
Jun 26, 2008 mark rated it it was ok
In The Deer Park, Mailer satirizes post-WWII hollywood which by his account was an immoral, selfish, venal, and generally corrupt society. The story in mostly set in a desert town east of LA (Palm Springs?), where the studio owners, producers, directors, writers, and actors go to lounge around and drink, party, and sleep around. The characters are fickle and unfaithful, cheating on one another and trying to build themselves up by cutting others down, usually in a dramatic fashion befitting Holly ...more
Aug 29, 2015 L. rated it really liked it
3,5 za pewne cytaty, które wświdrowały mi się w mózg i gorączkowo przepisywałam je piórem w trzęsącym się metrze. Nieustannie do nich wracam.

EDIT 29.08.2015: Jednak pełne 4. Za często myślę o tej książce.

Mailer miał być moim Literackim Objawieniem. Mam spore wymagania wobec tego chłystka. Jest na bardzo dobrej drodze, by tak właśnie się stało, na pewno mu nie odpuszczę, bo mimo - chwilami - zbyt naiwnych, zbyt szowinistycznych, zbyt pustych fragmentów Jeleniego parku, nie mogłam się od tej książ
Doug Pfeffer
I started reading this, couldn't finish, which is rare. Just seemed like reading a bunch of boring details about other people's petty problems. Maybe it made more sense in a certain context or time, but didn't do much for me.
Mario Schievenini
Mar 19, 2014 Mario Schievenini rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
La constante presión en el ambiente cinematográfico estadounidense se ve a traves de los ojos de alguien ajeno a ese mundo. La lucha por decir lo que es necesario. Muy buena obra que me mantuco al filo de la lectura un buen rato.
Mar 21, 2014 Jillian rated it it was amazing
Shelves: classics, depressing
What a menagerie of neurosis! This depressing play is so honest and raw that I have a hard time picturing an audience clapping at its conclusion today, much less when it debuted. Like all incredible classics, it's as relevant now as when it was published.

Some favorite lines:

"You're still a blonde. A blonde is a dame who choses to be blonde because she's an optimist."

"Yes, I love you. But don't love you completely. You're too greedy. You don't really love me and yet you want every last bit of me.
Mar 08, 2016 Philip rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: tragedy, novel
It must b e a great book because the author spares no energy in assuring me that it's a great book. In fact he almost DEMANDS that I accept that it's a great book. However, I found it to be rather tedious. Maybe it was daring when first published but it's not breaking any rules today. Mailer's talent shows through but it feels like the files of somebody's analyst.
Read it 2001/2 got it at a book exchange. Don't remember it, just remember that he didn't do a good job of creating a place.
Aug 04, 2008 Craig rated it liked it
Recommends it for: People who can read about swearing and partying and not have it bother them.
For some reason I thought this book was going to be about humans using guns to hunt other humans, not sure why.

It obviously wasn't.

This book is definitely crass and not one I'd recommend to my mom, but it is a fascinating look into relationships and what fame, fortune and life choices do to them.

I thought it was pretty good, but dark. It is far from my favorite Mailer book though.

It didn't compare to The Naked and the Dead or The Executioner's Song.
Lyric Powers
A well written boring tale of characters I absolutely could not be moved to care about. Some interesting, albeit highly pessimistic, bits of philosophizing on the human condition littered throughout a "satirical" view of post WWII Hollywood that ultimately fails to entertain. The last chapter was excellent, but the first 26 had only a few scenes worth reading.
Dec 14, 2013 Carlos rated it it was ok
Recommends it for: Hardcore Mailer fans
Recommended to Carlos by: Loved "The Naked and the Dead"
Aack. This post WW II book was infused with Mailer's innate talent, but the characters lacked the pull of those in "The Naked and the Dead." Seems like he was trying to find a new voice after his wild early success. Still and all, he's in there swinging. I'd advise first-time Mailer readers to skip this one.
Feb 05, 2011 Mark rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I think you can tell the parts where Mailer was drunk when he was writing and when he was sober, because this has some remarkablly lucid and beautifully written character observations, but also some strangely opaque and convoluted passages that don't make a lot of sense.
Chris Gager
Nov 15, 2011 Chris Gager rated it liked it
The first Norman Mailer that I read. I don't recall enjoying it. It was about Hollywood(?)... California(?)... Sort of baffling and uninvolving to me at the time. Maybe Mailer's equivalent to Styron's awful "Set This House on Fire". Date read is a guess.
My first Mailer novel.... Not really bombastic or outrageous like I was expecting it to be. Alternatingly compelling and tedious, and its insights into men and women together were just as likely to make me roll my eyes as nod my head.
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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.
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“The essence of spirit, he thought to himself, was to choose the thing which did not better one's position but made it more perilous. That was why the world he knew was poor, for it insisted morality and caution were identical.” 4 likes
“Where, in what cemetery of the heavens, did the tender words of lovers rest when they loved no longer?” 0 likes
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