An American Dream Expanded
|An American Dream||Expanded||Bibliography||Letters||Timeline||Word Count Comparison||Credits|
This project is coming in the spring of 2019. If you’d like to contribute, see the discussion page.
|“||An American Dream is Norman Mailer’s first novel in nine years. He wrote it at a high pitch, each chapter appearing in Esquire while he was still at work on the next: a method now unusual but common enough among the great novelists of the nineteenth century, which contributed much to the quivering tension of the story.
The theme of challenge suggested by Mailer’s choice of this method is very much a part of the book. His hero challenges the Devil himself. Stephen Rojack kills his wife, lies to the police, is interrogated by them, discovers a woman, his wife’s opposite, in whom he senses the truth and strength he longs for. The ingredients of his story are deliberately those familiar from many a thriller or movie-murder—suspense, sex—but Rojack lives these experiences with a fierce intensity which shatters their popular image and reveals extraordinary meanings behind them. He is a man who believes in God and the Devil, and to whom God is courage, not love. His actions become explosively significant because he feels that any one of them might open the crack through which the Devil’s power, or that of God, could flood in.
Simply on the level of ‘what will happen next?’ An American Dream grips relentlessly: will the suspicious police pounce on Rojack? Will he and Cherry, his new girl, be able to establish the love which has begun to grow between them? But beyond this there is the immense exhilaration springing from the boldness and passion with which Norman Mailer tackles his central theme of man as the battleground for God and the Devil.
This is his most exciting book since The Naked and the Dead, which became a modern classic and has sold, over two and a half million copies in the English language.
|— Dust jacket text, British edition, Andre Deutsch, April 1965.|
“Major Reviews for a Major Novel” in the NYT.
Best seller list of the week in Publishers Weekly, May 1965, showing An American Dream in No. 6 position.
Announcement of Warner Brothers studios purchasing the movie rights to An American Dream, March 2, 1964
Advertising Copy for the New York Times, March 15, 1965
Blurbs and Snippets
Norman Mailer’s An American Dream (Dial Press) is reviewed on the cover of the March 14th issue of Book Week by Tom Wolfe. . . . He is unique—there is no other word for Wolfe. . . . His essay on Mailer’s first novel in nine years is no exception. I think you will find it the most extraordinary review you’ve read in recent memory.
A 1965 letter from William Trotter in support of Mailer.
Granville Hicks, in his review of Norman Mailer’s An American Dream [SR, March 20], tells us that Mailer’s main character has no reality, the other characters are “dummies,” the writing is sloppy, and the plot is absurd. One might say the same about Dostoevsky’s Notes from the Underground. Perhaps An American Dream is not a great book, but it is most certainly not a “bad joke.” It contains scenes of great power and pages of brilliant imagery. It holds one’s interest. It is an entertaining book to read. ~W. K. Mason, Madison, Wis.
In his letter to the Saturday Review (June 5, 1965), Bill Powers responds to criticism that An American Dream is a “literary hoax” and argues that through murder Rojack places himself “in the position to rebegin his life.”