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