Difference between revisions of "The Mailer Review/Volume 1, 2007/The Executioner’s Song: A Life Beneath our Conscience"

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{{DISPLAYTITLE:<span style="font-size:22px;">{{BASEPAGENAME}}/</span>''The Executioner’s Song'': A Life Beneath our Conscience}}
{{DISPLAYTITLE:<span style="font-size:22px;">{{BASEPAGENAME}}/</span>''The Executioner’s Song'': A Life Beneath our Conscience}}
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{{Byline|last=Bufithis|first=Philip|abstract=What Mailer attempts in ''The Executioner’s Song'' is a modernist project that puts him in high company. No Mailer book brings us as close to events and character as this work of creative nonfiction. Its unperformative, transparent style allows our consciousness to flow into its movement so that we find ourselves intimately inhabiting a world. Removing himself, Mailer has put us in his place.|url=https://prmlr.us/mr07bufi}}
{{Byline|last=Bufithis|first=Philip|abstract=What Mailer attempts in ''The Executioner’s Song'' is a modernist project that puts him in high company. No Mailer book brings us as close to events and character as this work of creative nonfiction. Its unperformative, transparent style allows our consciousness to flow into its movement so that we find ourselves intimately inhabiting a world. Removing himself, Mailer has put us in his place.|url=https://prmlr.us/mr01buf}}


Critics in the 1970s said Mailer’s star was dimming. He was slipping; he kept writing in the same key. When ''[[The Executioner's Song|The Executioner’s Song]]'' appeared in 1979, they reconsidered. It became a bestseller, won a Pulitzer, and attracted a young readership, which Mailer had not enjoyed since 1967 with ''[[The Armies of the Night]]''. His new book surprised expectations in two ways now regarded as truisms: it is written in a plain direct style, and the Mailer persona is absent.
{{dc|dc=C|ritics in the {{date|1970}}s said Mailer’s star was dimming.}} He was slipping; he kept writing in the same key. When ''[[The Executioner's Song|The Executioner’s Song]]'' appeared in {{date|1979}}, they reconsidered. It became a bestseller, won a Pulitzer, and attracted a young readership, which Mailer had not enjoyed since {{date|1967}} with ''[[The Armies of the Night]]''. His new book surprised expectations in two ways now regarded as truisms: it is written in a plain direct style, and the Mailer persona is absent.


Is it? We need not take too close a look at photographer-journalist Larry Schiller to suspect he is standing in for Mailer. Schiller meets Gary Gilmore in prison, wins his trust, and after much struggle gets book and movie rights to his story. Schiller is wily and bold, a hustler possessed of an outsized ambition for success in the media marketplace. Whenever we see him, Mailer abandons his plain style and employs his usual rhetorical brio. Ultimately, though, Mailer is too thoroughly the detached artist in this book truly to subsume Schiller under his own image. It is fairer to say we see Mailer’s character in, not as, Schiller.
Is it? We need not take too close a look at photographer-journalist Larry Schiller to suspect he is standing in for Mailer. Schiller meets Gary Gilmore in prison, wins his trust, and after much struggle gets book and movie rights to his story. Schiller is wily and bold, a hustler possessed of an outsized ambition for success in the media marketplace. Whenever we see him, Mailer abandons his plain style and employs his usual rhetorical brio. Ultimately, though, Mailer is too thoroughly the detached artist in this book truly to subsume Schiller under his own image. It is fairer to say we see Mailer’s character in, not as, Schiller.