The Rory Gilmore Book Club discussion

Nominations & Voting > Next club book by Norman Mailer?

Comments Showing 1-37 of 37 (37 new)    post a comment »
dateDown arrow    newest »

message 1: by Michelle (last edited Aug 25, 2016 01:40PM) (new)

Michelle (literarilyspeaking1) I decided to pop this discussion out of the Norman Mailer thread so it can take on a life of its own.

As most of you know, the brilliant and curmudgeonly Mr. Mailer passed away this weekend, and the suggestion was made that we should consider making one of his books next on our list.

So far, we have votes for:
"The Executioner's Song"
"Armies of the Night"
"Naked and the Dead"

Meghan (sorry if I spelled your name wrong!) said "Executioner" was a great book, but very long (over 1,000 pages) and suggested we allow more time to read it if we chose it.
I said "Armies" was well-written, but I don't remember it being terribly compelling. I could be remembering things incorrectly, but it's set during the Vietnam era during some protests, and Mailer himself was arrested.
I also suggested "Naked," but I've never read it, so I can't speak to its virtues or vices. I know its his most famous work.

Any suggestions/discussions?

message 2: by Alison, the guru of grace (last edited Aug 25, 2016 01:40PM) (new)

Alison | 1282 comments Mod
Maybe we could do our usual voting for our monthly selections, then we could choose a Mailer book to do on the side, and keep the dicussion open for a few months, if it's particularly long. So we could have our usual threads, then a Mailer thread open as well, and we could choose to or not to read & discuss it as well. I know I personally would read our two selections for that month, then when I finished, I could pick up the Mailer and read/discuss as well. Does that sound like too much?

message 3: by Meghan (last edited Aug 25, 2016 01:40PM) (new)

Meghan Here's what says about him, it includes his more famous works:

Norman Mailer was born in 1923 in Long Branch, New Jersey, and grew up in Brooklyn, New York. In 1955, he was one of the co-founders of The Village Voice. He is the author of more than thirty books, including The Naked and the Dead; The Armies of the Night, for which he won a National Book Award and the Pulitzer Prize; The Executioner’s Song, for which he won his second Pulitzer Prize; Harlot’s Ghost; Oswald’s Tale; The Gospel According to the Son; and The Castle in the Forest. He lives in Provincetown, Massachusetts, with his wife, the novelist Norris Church Mailer.

The Naked and the Dead & The Executioner's Song are the most well read probably because he won a Pulitzer for them.

On God: An Uncommon Conversation is his most recent works. I believe published this year.

An American Dream is the book that Tom Wolfe once criticized Mailer for lifting from Dostoyevsky's Crime and Punishment. They had a very well known feud for years about that comment. Although Wolfe says now they were friends when he died.

I would be happy to read any of his works, but are there any specific ones on the Rory list?

message 4: by Bibliosaurus (last edited Aug 25, 2016 01:40PM) (new)

Bibliosaurus | 22 comments Considering his influence on the Gilmores and his recent passing, I think choosing Mailer for next month is a great idea. He is one of those authors I've always been meaning to get around to. Harlot's Ghost caught my eye as I was browsing his titles. It is however, pretty long. If we do pick a lengthy Mailer, I am wondering if it wouldn't then make sense to have only one book for December. Every one tends to get busy during the holidays and I'm not sure if we would all have time to read both selections.

message 5: by Bibliosaurus (last edited Aug 25, 2016 01:40PM) (new)

Bibliosaurus | 22 comments I just checked, The Naked and the Dead is on the Rory list. Maybe that should be the choice for next month.

message 6: by Erica (last edited Aug 25, 2016 01:40PM) (new)

Erica Poole | 199 comments Oooooh, I have never read one of his books. The Executioner's Song is the one about the serial killer on death row, true story right? I think that one would be interesting. I have never read a book about a serial killer (real) either, so that would be two birds with one stone for me!

message 7: by whichwaydidshego, the sage of sass (last edited Aug 25, 2016 01:40PM) (new)

whichwaydidshego | 1996 comments Mod
You know what? I'm totally up for paying homage, but I just CANNOT see reading such a heavy - and long - book during the Christmas season. I'm really sorry, but I'd not vote for it. Maybe January, but 721 pages in The Naked and the Dead (indeed the only one on the official lists) is a lot.

I'd consider it as a "background book" that lingers for a few months as a side book to our chosen ones like Alison suggested, but I want something that compliments the season. Reading a detailed war story isn't my idea of that.

Just one voice here, but I still think we should vote and not decide unilaterally that Mailer is our next choice.

message 8: by Alison, the guru of grace (last edited Aug 25, 2016 01:40PM) (new)

Alison | 1282 comments Mod
I also just happened to see a Norman Mailer book group created today...

message 9: by Cody (last edited Aug 25, 2016 01:40PM) (new)

Cody Wilshire (codywilshire) | 85 comments The Naked and the Dead is one of my all time favorite books. I definitely recommend that book however, it's a LOT of reading and it's not exactly light reading either, it's rather deft.

I think if and when we do a Mailer book (which I think we should) it should be either longer than a month, or one of his shorter works.

message 10: by Meghan (last edited Aug 25, 2016 01:41PM) (new)

Meghan I TOTALLY agree that we shelve Mailer for December. His work is NOT emotionally light weight and who needs additional pressure in an already emotional rollercoaster of a month. (December being the worst month for depression in this country.)

I do however, think that we need to read Mailer for Mailer's sake. So I would prefer NOT to make it a side book. I don't mind it being one of the two books we pick but would prefer if we don't pick 3 books. For example, if we pick Mailer as a second book, we can use his book as our second book for two months (if people are finding they need more time to read) and just pick one other book for those two months? I really think you'll want to give his works that kind of attention.

But on the other hand, I pretty much flew through the first section "Gary". I would say you could read this book in one month. So maybe instead of 2 books that month, we just pick one Mailer? We could have the option that if people are struggling with Mailer or we've read all flew through it that a second book could be picked at a later date?

Also, I think all his works are great, but maybe we could first pick from either of his pulitzer prize novels? The Naked and the Dead & The Executioner's Song are the two that won prizes. The Naked won another major prize on top of the Pulitzer.

message 11: by Sarah (last edited Aug 25, 2016 01:41PM) (new)

Sarah (songgirl7) I agree that if a Mailer is picked it should be The Naked and the Dead which is on the Rory list. Although since Mailer himself appeared on the show, I think all his books should qualify. But I agree with Meghan in that I don't want to pick three books. I have another at-home book club too and that would mean four books picked for me in one month, and with my school reading requirements on top of that, it's a lot even for me.

message 12: by Tiffany (last edited Aug 25, 2016 01:41PM) (new)

Tiffany I've never read anything by Norman Mailer, so I would be open to the opportunity. I do agree though that maybe December's selection should be a little bit "lighter" what with the holidays coming up. I know I'll be doing some traveling and I'm sure everyone else will be quite busy as well.

message 13: by brian (last edited Aug 25, 2016 01:41PM) (new)

brian   hey everyone, i just started up a norman mailer club if anyone's interested you can locate it on my page...

i've read nearly everything he's written... that said, i don't know that Naked and the Dead is the best choice. it's long and dense and a slow read.

i'd suggest Executioner's Song. it is, of course, very long, but the prose is so clean and so spare and it truly is a page-turner. i knocked out that book much quicker than, say, Armies of the Night which is relatively short, but overwritten and, truth be told, a bit of a bore.

and, yeah - the fact that mailer himself appeared on the show has to qualify him for some kind of special status, huh? all his books should be eligible...

well - if you do decide to pick a mailer novel, i'll surely be here to throw in my two cents...

message 14: by Sarah (last edited Aug 25, 2016 01:41PM) (new)

Sarah (songgirl7) Just a suggestion, here, and take it with a grain of salt since I know very little about this book (maybe Brian can shed some light):

How about for December (if we agree we want to do a Mailer) we choose The Gospel According to the Son? It's based on Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John and that would seem appropriate for the Christmas holiday. Unless, of course, it's in some way blasphemous or derogatory (like the Last Temptation of Christ).

message 15: by Cody (last edited Aug 25, 2016 01:41PM) (new)

Cody Wilshire (codywilshire) | 85 comments I don't see that book as blasphemous or derogatory but I can see how some people may be offended by it.

The Gospel According to the Son is a great book as well. His work is great in general.

message 16: by Meghan (last edited Aug 25, 2016 01:41PM) (new)

Meghan I'd vote for it if you add it to your list.

And I totally agree with Brian's assessment of The Executioner's Song. It really reads well (like TTTW quickly, for those who liked that book) even though the subject matter is rather intense (like Wicked intense but not so overly done like Maguire).

Oh and moderator ladies--can we do our top FIVE choices when selecting books? I don't know about anyone else, but when I see a list of 10 books and I have to rank them knowing only 1 is going to be picked, it just seems, I don't know, excessive? (Personally, I think one is enough per month. With the number of people who voted the last two months, we got a decent list. And since they're all books from a list that we are eventually going to read, it's not like a different book won't be brought up another time.)

Sorry...just have to ask while I'm thinking of it.


message 17: by Sarah (last edited Aug 25, 2016 01:41PM) (new)

Sarah (songgirl7) I like the idea of only doing the top five too. I had a hard time picking ten, actually, because while there are more than ten books on the list that I want to read, I don't necessarily have a ranking preference for them.

I like reading two books but we should remember that we won't always find something on the list that matches our top pick. In fact, I don't think The Time Machine was on the list to begin with, either. Maybe we should do our main pick book is the "official" book for the club, and the second book is "for further reading." Like in my lit class, we have our assignment which is required, then he assigns additional recommended but optional works.

message 18: by Alison, the guru of grace (last edited Aug 25, 2016 01:41PM) (new)

Alison | 1282 comments Mod
Sounds good to me. For some reason, the companion book really appeals to my personality. Must be to do with the yin and the yang of it all...or maybe it soothes my OCD tendencies. Either way, I love the contemporary with the classic. But as always, reading the second book or not would be the reader's choice.

Five picks sounds great, and easier for the moderator to tally votes.

Is there anything seasonal on the list that we might pick for the winter holidays...I know the Mailer "Gospel" had been mentioned...I noticed "Holidays on Ice" by David Sedaris. (I know those two are quite a contrast).

message 19: by Sarah (last edited Aug 25, 2016 01:42PM) (new)

Sarah (songgirl7) I think Holidays is the only one on the list. I was surprised that A Christmas Carol wasn't on there, since just about every other Dickens work is!

What about novels that aren't specifically about Christmas but may feature Christmas scenes? Little Women comes to mind.

message 20: by Tiffany (last edited Aug 25, 2016 01:42PM) (new)

Tiffany | 59 comments OOOOOH! I love Little Women. One of my favorites!

message 21: by Meghan (last edited Aug 25, 2016 01:42PM) (new)

Meghan I just purchased "The Gospel According to the Son"...the book that immediately came to mind that would be a compliment to this one is "Lamb: The Gospel According to Biff, Christ's Childhood Pal." It's funny and a light read, but really interesting. It deals with the missing years of Christ (missing years from the Bible that is). It shouldn't offend, but rather, offer up a lot of interesting debate about what COULD have happened during those years.

But not to get overly religious on you, I kind of think these books are more of an Easter reading as it deals more with Christ as a man (and his death) than with his birth. Not that this should dictate when you read it. Just wanted to note that since I kind of picked up on a desire for holiday reading.

P.S. I HATE reading A Christmas Carol. Mainly because I hate Dickens. LOVE the movies. Just hate reading the story.

Love the Sedaris suggestion though. AND of course Little Women since it's my favorite book of ALL TIME.

message 22: by Sarah (last edited Aug 25, 2016 01:42PM) (new)

Sarah (songgirl7) I thought of Lamb too. Sadly, none of the books I want to read next month are on the Rory list other than the Sedaris one!

I was looking through the list thinking how fun it would be to read certain books at certain times of the year, like we did with October/Halloween. The one that really stood out was the idea to read Uncle Tom's Cabin in February, black history month. And the Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe is one I like to read at Easter (the Aslan death scene being so symbolic of the crucifixion). So even if the group doesn't pick those books, I can still read them on my own!

message 23: by Meghan (last edited Aug 25, 2016 01:42PM) (new)

Meghan Okay, I was looking at our book list to see if any holiday-ish books were on it and I saw that Margaret Atwood's "Handmaid's Tale" is on the list. I have to say we HAVE to read that with "A Brave New World." Those two are almost identical but told in very different ways. I think it would make for an incredible discussion. Atwood's "Oryx and Crake" works well with ABNW too but I have a feeling a lot of you won't like that one (it's very sci-fi-ish and strange. One of my favorite Atwood books, but it wasn't popular in my other book club.)

Someone, quick! Go watch the Christmas episodes of GG. They have to have made some book/author references! heh

message 24: by Alison, the guru of grace (last edited Aug 25, 2016 01:43PM) (new)

Alison | 1282 comments Mod
I would like to read A Handmaid's Tale as well. Although I didn't care for The Blind Assassin, I've been told AHT is a better read. And I love Brave New World, Little Women...I love the Little Women movie with Christian Bale as Laurie (great Christmas viewing)...and I love the idea of the timely picks as suggested by Sarah.

message 25: by Meghan (last edited Aug 25, 2016 01:43PM) (new)

Meghan Alison, AHT is DEFINITELY different than TBA. TBA is actually similar to her older works and, what I term "Canadian" books as they are about her native Toronto (Cat's Eye, Robber Bride, etc.). I prefer her sci-fi-ish books (AHT and Oryx & Crake). She just weaves such a compelling story while questioning society.

But I have to say the Little Women with Christian Bale is so good and just enhances my love for Bale. I have to say it's one of the rare movies that actually does justice to the book. I don't like it better than the book, but neither do I think it let the book down. I'm going to have to go watch that now! heh

message 26: by Erica (last edited Aug 25, 2016 01:43PM) (new)

Erica Poole | 199 comments Haha, back to Bale! Meghan you sure do like your Bale don't ya?

message 27: by whichwaydidshego, the sage of sass (last edited Aug 25, 2016 01:44PM) (new)

whichwaydidshego | 1996 comments Mod
As for the voting situation...

It's a lot to explain, but having you rank 10 is much easier. We can do five if you like... but take it from someone it happened to last time, it's a bummer when you didn't even vote for the book that is chosen. It feels like you didn't even take part!

I think a better idea would be to limit the book suggestions. That way we have only, say, 10 to 15 to vote on, but we rate them all. Thus if you've read something and don't want to re-read it, it's at the bottom of the list. But that way you've had your say on every book.

As for A Christmas Carol, Dickens was mentioned in a class Rory took as a major influence to another writer they were discussing, so whomever added his titles just made judgment calls on which to add. Therefore my suggestion when the time comes will be A Christmas Carol.

Someone addressed the moderators... I just wanted to mention that Shannon has been out of town but will be back online in a while. Fret not.

Also, we will be voting on books a little later in the month because it didn't work out very well that so many started - and even finished - the book for November in October. The discussions seem to have died down yet some of us are just coming up on finishing it now. The reason behind releasing the book earlier was so that people would have time to get their copy before the month began. For those of us that read more than just the books from this club, it was disappointing to feel rushed through our other reads because we were missing out on the discussions here!

I'm not trying to be a scolding mama! And I'm certainly not thinking of any one person when I say all this. I just really want this to be a fun, accessible group to all 114 current members, and any others that will join us.

Oh, and I think Little Women is a great suggestion for December! Definitely submit that one when the time comes!

Lastly, thus far a classic and a modern has been a good format. I think we should continue with that for a while longer and see how it continues to go. One is never obliged to read either of them. At any time, one could choose to just read one or the other (or in fact, neither). So for those that have been enjoying the comparing and contrasting, we will continue.

I know that it will sometimes mean stretching our reading time to more than a month when longer, more intense books are chosen... that is fine. But please can I urge you to not choose a book like that for December? (For the important reason Meghan mentioned as well as time factors for all.)

Further, while Mailer was indeed on the show, his one book on the list really should be the one we read together. We've had these discussions before and by a rather large margin the general consensus was to get through the list first. There's so much there!

Feel free to disagree. Let me have it! If you aren't sure what I was trying to say or why I would say it, please do ask. This is a group where all our voices count. Just please don't take offense if, for now at least, we decided together to go a different route than the one you laid out. Thanks so much. I love this group and want all of you to feel the same way!

message 28: by Sarah (last edited Aug 25, 2016 01:44PM) (new)

Sarah (songgirl7) Meghan, how are we friends again? You hate Dickens? You hate Steinbeck, you hate Hemingway, you aren't all that excited by Austen... all basically my favorite authors. If you weren't such a fabulously amazing person with the cutest kid in the world, I might have to get a new best friend! :P

Michele, I can only speak for myself, but with TTTW it was a book I'd been wanting to read for a while and I had a 6 hour flight for which I needed reading material, so that's why I started the book early. And then I was so excited by what I was reading, I started the discussion thread too soon. Sorry!! But I think maybe next month we should just put in big bold letters, "PLEASE DO NOT START DISCUSSING THIS BOOK UNTIL DECEMBER 1!" To remind people who get ahead of themselves, like me.

Maybe we should only suggest 5 books each, and then you and Shannon could still take the top ten nominees and we could still rate them that way. But it was hard for me to nominate 10 books, because there are so many on the list I want to get to that none seem to rank higher than another.

I'm sorry if this post is incoherent. I've had a long day and am self-medicating with some pinot noir. So I am probably rambling.

message 29: by whichwaydidshego, the sage of sass (last edited Aug 25, 2016 01:44PM) (new)

whichwaydidshego | 1996 comments Mod
Yum. I want to self medicate, too... have you any pinot to share???

Like I said, that wasn't directed at anyone, just a general point. Anyway, it certainly takes more than one to "discuss." LOL!

I really liked the idea Tiffany (I think it was) brought up on another post about doing chapter or page spoilers so that you can still be apart of it as you read without getting anything spoiled. Go find that thread and voice your opinions!

message 30: by Shannon, the founder of fun (back from sabbatical) (last edited Aug 25, 2016 01:44PM) (new)

Shannon | 254 comments Mod
Hey guys!! I'm back. I just wanted to pop in and say I would really like to read a Mailer novel too. Perhaps January???

message 31: by Sarah (last edited Aug 25, 2016 01:45PM) (new)

Sarah (songgirl7) I do! Actually the pinot I opened had a little bottle shock so it'll probably be even better tonight! Come on over! :)

January is a good idea for a Mailer novel. Put it on your list! I'll vote for it!

message 32: by Meghan (last edited Aug 25, 2016 01:45PM) (new)

Meghan Ditto on everything that was said since my last posting! And apologies to all. Sarah just posted a "I love this book" but I actually got the ball rolling by discussing it. My bad.

Anyway, anyone who puts Mailer on their January list, I'll totally vote for it!

But what about December? Have we thought about thematic reads? One thematic read? Or go crazy and do something totally unholiday-ish? Thoughts??

message 33: by Meghan (last edited Aug 25, 2016 01:45PM) (new)

Meghan erica - yeah, I'm a balehead. Loved him ever since Newsies (remember that Disney musical?!). I fell for him so hard and was just crushed to learn he married (even though I was married at the time too!). So sorry if I get a little drooly on everyone.

Sarah - I was totally thinking the same thing. We totally have the same tastes in just about everything but books and hot dogs. heh But let me put it this way...I would rather read Wuthering Heights again than read a Dickens' novel. (And yes, I've read several Dickens so it's not like I tried to read one and gave up.)

But I think we can agree on the Russian authors? heh

message 34: by Tiffany (last edited Aug 25, 2016 01:45PM) (new)

Tiffany Well, I was leaning towards Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress since it seems like it got a lot of votes last time. But now that a few people have mentioned Little Women I'm totally excited about that one!

message 35: by whichwaydidshego, the sage of sass (last edited Aug 25, 2016 01:46PM) (new)

whichwaydidshego | 1996 comments Mod
SHUT UP, MEGHAN!!! We really are separated at birth. I adored Newsies and was hooked on Bale ever since, too. Did you see him in Swing Kids? Totally dug that one as well, because it was him AND WW2. The other main kid from Newsies (also the kid in Big) is in a bunch of commercials now. It's weird.

Also, I've always felt the way you do about Dickens AND Wuthering Heights, but as it's been a long time since I read any Dickens (ahhh, avoidance) I thought I might have to give him a try to see if my feelings had changed at all. But I'd only do it if it was REALLY short... and he didn't really do short with the exception of A Christmas Carol.

As for my desires for our December read, I really, REALLY, REALLY would like to do a holiday read. You see, with all our fun talks about Christmas traditions and movies and such, I'm totally psyched up for Christmas this year and I want to completely indulge in it!

Oh, and Meghan my Seattle friend I told you about is friends with Christian Bale's wife. I had just discovered he was married and was grieving when she added that salt to the open wound.

Sarah, we are so doing a Pinot and Holiday movie night... maybe even weekend! Hee! But you will have to deal with the fact that I too think that Batman is way better than Superman.

message 36: by Alison, the guru of grace (last edited Aug 25, 2016 01:46PM) (new)

Alison | 1282 comments Mod
I'm in the mood for a holiday read as well. I like Dickens, but, A Christmas Carol...I've just seen so many of the movie, stage adaptations (my favorite is the Muppets). I feel like the story would be a little tired to me.

Remember, we have Holidays on Ice by David Sedaris from Rory's list. We could pair it with whatever we wanted. Any other Christmas classics? Anyone? (Little Women is all I can think of). Of course, the vote will still determine the true choice.

message 37: by Sarah (last edited Aug 25, 2016 01:46PM) (new)

Sarah (songgirl7) Alison, my favorite Christmas Carol adaptation is the Muppet one too!

Meghan and Michele - I heart Newsies! My friends and I went to see it several times when it was in the theatre and drooled over all the cute dancing and singing boys but of course Christian Bale was the favorite. And, Michele, Meghan and I have always thought we were separated at birth so maybe we were triplets or something.

And yes, we need to do a Pinot and Holiday movie night. My store closes at six so if you wanted to do the drive up to Sacramento it might be easier. Then you could spend the night if Meghan is willing to let you use her room.

I'll probably end up reading both Hoildays on Ice and Little Women (and A Christmas Carol, since I read it every year) next month regardless of what the group picks. But I'll be suggesting all three!

back to top