An American Dream Expanded/Major Reviews for a Major Novel
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An American Dream Expanded.
An American Dream Expanded.
From the New York Times, 1965.
|“||The novel explores, in what will surely be called morbid and salacious detail, the possibilities, not for damnation, but for salvation to be found in some of the most reprehensible acts known to our society — murder, suicide, incest, fornication and physical violence. But it is the expression of a devastatingly alive and original creative mind at work in a language capable of responding with seismographic sensitivity to an enormously wide range of impressions. There seems to be no limit to what Mailer is now suddenly able to do with words, particularly in recording the physical and psychological realities of people as they impinge up on the mind of a man constantly flagellating himself to new heights of awareness. In fact, it is possible to say that Mailer has developed a prose idiom of richer sensitivity to the exact condition of contemporary consciousness than any we have had in fiction since the best work of Faulkner.||”|
|— John W. Aldridge, Life|
|“||A sometimes bizarre, always violent, absolutely contemporary story of evil, death, and strange hope . . . late at night, dozing over the front page or on a crowded street, one confronts the full menace of what Mailer describes. Beneath the glare of events, An American Dream beats with the pulse of some huge night carnivore. It defines the American style by presenting the most extreme of our realities—murder, love and spirit strangulated, the corruption of power and the powerful, the sacrifice of self to image—all of it mixmastered in booze and heat-and-serve sex, giving off the smell of burning rubber to the sound of sirens . . . Mailer manhandles the reader straight through the plate glass into the center of the event . . . I think he is one of the few really interesting writers anywhere.||”|
|— Conrad Knickerbocker, in a front page review, N.Y. Times Book Review|
|“||Mailer is surely one of the most vigorous of contemporary writers. For the sheer rhetoric of its prose, An American Dream rises above most other current novels . . . There are few American novelists today writing with such vigor, and there are individual scenes of enormous power . . . Such scenes may very well suggest that the literary pledge of The Naked and the Dead, so long unfulfilled, has at last been redeemed.||”|
|— Paul R. Jackson, in a front page review, Chicago Tribune, Books Today|
|“||Now he is . . . the Champ . . . Only the American language could handle the American nightmare, and here it is, the language American writers have worked toward for years, dirty and soaring, rutty and compound, with Europe’s fine meals and museums and concentration camps behind it, with Faulkner and Hemingway and Dick Tracy behind it, with almost everyone behind it . . . He has built out of the madness, the total disconnection, of our national life, a tough, tight structure of ideas and images that is exhausting but explanatory, that elucidates the mysteries even as it deepens them . . . Years ago Mailer pointed like Babe Ruth and nobody believed him. In this novel he gets the ball over the fence at last.||”|
|— Richard Rhodes, Kansas City Star|
|“||An American Dream is Mailer’s most remarkable achievement . . . Like an ancient tragedy it is a work of fierce concentration . . . It centers on a domestic crime which is also dynastic, a crime of passion which is also political . . . It is an American Dream as Oedipus the King is a Greek dream . . . a dramatization of those possibilities in ourselves that we starve to shadows in our waking hours and that return to raven us in our dreams . . . Though the idiom of the novel is perfectly, and often brilliantly, realistic, the atmosphere is mythic. The encounters take place on the brink . . . the states of mind are extreme, rendered with an extraordinary, almost unbearable immediacy.||”|
|— Paul Pickerel, Harper’s|
|“||Here are the scenes of rare fictional quality one has come to expect from Mailer’s vision: the malevolent lilt of the Negro crooner’s colloquy, the clarity and drive of the police station scenes; the father-in-law’s immeasurably evil monologue; and a lyric, loving scene—heralding a mellower Mailer—between Rojack and his step-daughter, Deirdre . . . Mailer throws everything into his Saturnalian cathartic . . . to trouble all who are cloyed as Rojack and Mailer are by the sweet, sick narcotic of 20th-century life.||”|