An American Dream-Scene: Inside an Army Tent in Vietnam

DATE OF REVIEW - 3/22/1965

AN AMERICAN DREAM By Norman Mailer Publisher - Dial Press, 1965

SCENE: Inside an Army Tent in

   Vietnam. Tent is lit by
   a gasoline lantern. (First)
   Soldier is sitting on Cot,
   writing letter. (Second)
   Soldier enters tent & sits
   on another cot, Reads An 
   American Dream for a minute,
   then speaks.
   (First soldier looks old enough 
   to have children. Second soldier
   can be younger.)
                                                          2nd Soldier: "Who you writing to?"
                                                          1st Soldier: "Judy and the kids. Watcha reading?"
                                                          2nd Soldier: "New novel by Norman Mailer, the guy that wrote
                                                                       The Naked and the Dead. You read that?"
                                                          1st Soldier: "I read it twice. Good book. Old Mailer knew the
                                                                       the army all right. This new thing any good?"
                                                          2nd Soldier: "I don't know for sure. I'm about halfway through
                                                                       it, and I can't figure out what he's trying to say
                                                          1st Soldier: "What's he call it? Is it as rugged as The Naked and the Dead?"

2nd Solder holds book up so first soldier can see 2nd Soldier: "Dad you know it. It's called An American Dream, cover and camera can show it. and it's pretty wild in spots. My girl friend sent

                                                                        it to me, and I don't know if she read it, but
                                                                        there's some parts I'd just as soon she skip."
                                                          1st Soldier: "Let's see it a minute." 

Second Soldier Tosses "What does the dust jacket say?" book to first. (1st Soldier Quotes From Jacket Blurb)

(As second soldier listens, "The hero of An American Dream is Stephen

he can nod agreement now                                                Richards Rojack, a war hero, college 
and then.)                                                              professor, television performer and the 
                                                                        husband of an immensely wealthy girl."
                                                        An American Dream                                                          Page 2
                                                          2nd Soldier: "You read that very well."
                                                                (1st Soldier continues after shrugging off comment)
                                                                       "The time of the novel is 32 hours. In those
                                                                       32 hours Rojack journeys through every imaginable
                                                                       evil, and some all but unimaginable pleasures--
                                                                       an existential pilgrimage of great peril, of 
                                                                       profound suspense." 
                                                                (2nd Soldier, Interrupting Again:)
                                                                       "I don't know about that suspense jazz."
                                                           1st Soldier: (Continues)
                                                                        "The milieu of An American Dream is New York City -- 
                                                                         the night-time of plush East Side duplex apartments.
                                                           2nd Soldier: "I'd rather be there than here."
                                                           1st Soldier: (Continues)
                                                                        "of police precinct stations, of after-hours clubs,
                                                                        of Lower East Side tenements... Onto this 
                                                                        environment Mailer impresses his singular imagination
                                                                        creating a classic world of action and horror that
                                                                        takes on the dimensions of an American myth."
                                                                        "This doesn't sound so confusing. What do you mean,
                                                                        you don't know what it's about?"
                                                           2nd Soldier: "What I mean, old buddy, is I know what Mailer wrote. 
                                                                        I just don't know what he's trying to get at."
                                                           1st Soldier: "Well, should I read it or not?"
                                                                                                                              Page 3
                                                    An American Dream
                                                           2nd Soldier: "Lemme put it this way, Dad. I wouldn't recommend
                                                                        it for my mother 'cause she'd give me you-know-
                                                                        what for reading a dirty book. You remember that 
                                                                        part of the jacket you read where it said the 
                                                                        hero is a television performer? Well, he's even
                                                                        more of a bedroom performer, so I guess that lets
                                                                        out anybody who gets shocked easy. When you come
                                                                        right down to it, I'd say I'm about the only 
                                                                        person I know who's worldly enough to read it
                                                                        without getting all shook up."
                                                           1st Soldier: "Well, I'm older than you, and I'm twice as
                                                                        worldly. Just you let me read it, and I'll tell
                                                                        you what it's all about. OK?"
                                                           2nd Soldier:  "Good Luck, Frank Buck."
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                                                                             Review written by Donald M. Boucher