The Mailer Review/Volume 2, 2008/You Are Too Healthy for the World

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« The Mailer ReviewVolume 2 Number 1 • 2008 • In Memorium: Norman Mailer: 1923–2007 »
On God: An Uncommon Conversation
By Norman Mailer with J. Michael Lennon
New York: Random House, 2007
265 pp. Cloth $26.95.

Watching the doctors and nurses shuttling in and out of his wife’s hospital room, a restless G. K. Chesterton summed up the love and wonder rising inside him by saddling his imagination to charge through the closed door and place his hastily scribbled words on her breast: “The hair on your unconquered head shall freshen wanderers like a field / The very healers ’round your bed will touch your garments to be healed ... You will burn up the world at last / You are too healthy for the world. . . . ” Similar feelings were shared by many of those who loved Norman Mailer as in spirit they waited by his hospital door last November, drawn less by the gathering darkness than by the remarkable light that still shone so brightly from within.

The Mailer we always knew smiles as he catches sight of us and gestures us inside, have a seat, I’m talking with Mike Lennon about God. When, the careful reader asks, was Norman not talking about God who is a Presence if not a character in so much of his sixty years of writing?

That question also occurs to Michael Lennon, Mailer’s longtime friend and authorized biographer who led the conversations that constitute this absorbing book. In the preface Lennon observes that “Although his novels and narrative nonfiction back to the 1950s are shot through with his ideas of God and the Devil ... this material was there largely as a backdrop, a sort of cosmic context for the journeys and struggles of his characters ... the direct interventions of angels and demons were surmises.” That all changed in Mailer’s last novel, The Castle in the Forest, in which his beliefs now ground the characters in a solar system in which power is divided among God, the Devil, and humanity.

. . .

[[Category:Book Reviews (MR)