Log in

No account? Create an account

Send My Conscience Home in a Taxi

Externalised Memory

Previous Entry Share Next Entry
Norman Mailer
Stooges Bass
Norman Mailer, the, shall we say, somewhat controversial American novelist died late last year.

I've not really read that much of his stuff, I tried and failed to wade through his first novel, "The Naked and the Dead", and I vaguely recall reading at least to of his other works.

Anyway, his one book which I recall really liking is The Armies Of The Night, of which I have an ancient copy, which once belonged to my long-dead uncle. In fact he bough it in 1970, before I was born. I fished it out when he died, planning to read it over the summer.

Which I finally started to do yesterday.

It tells the story of an anti-Vietnam war march in 1967. What makes it interesting, however, as a work of "literature" is the way it is written in two halves. In the first, Mailer recounts his personal experiences of the march, Washington at the time and the events leading up to it. The second half is a more direct reporting of the events that took place, in which Mailer is merely one protagonist. One detail I always liked: one of the stated aims of the marchers was to surround the Pentagon and by shear force of will levitate it 300 feet up in the air! Ah, hippies...

It's widely regarded as an important piece of what was called "new journalism", a genre where writers like Hunter Thompson would tell of events as if writing a novel. It won several awards, I believe, possibly even a Pulitzer. (Yep. Hooray for the Wikipedia.)

I remember being most impressed by it when I first read it, which could be anything up to twenty years ago (scary!).

So. I've been re-reading it... And I'm finding it to be, well, at best self indulgent. At worst self indulgent twaddle. Mailer must have had an ego the size of a small planet... Which would explain a lot... Damn it. Either I've read a lot of good or better books along the same lines since (Capote's "In Cold Blood" springs to mind, and indeed is my favourite book of all time. Well, in my top ten at least). Or as a somewhat repressed and bored teenager in North Balwyn, maybe it had quite an impact on me because, well, it was more interesting than anything which happened in my life.

I hate it when this happens. Why can't good things stay good with the passage of time?

  • 1
things are never as good as you remember them to be...

Dang it. That's all too true...

  • 1