Other Free Encyclopedias » Literature Reference: American Literature, English Literature, Classics & Modern Fiction » Books & Authors: Award-Winning Fiction (Ke-Ma)

Mailer, Norman

fiction book time thriller

(US, 1923– )

Mailer became a celebrity author with his first book, and a public personality shortly afterwards; he has since been vastly prolific, with several landmark achievements in non-fiction. The ambitious scope of Mailer's cultural reportage has tended to overshadow his novels, but they remain fascinating. Some are huge panoramas, such as Harlot's Ghost (1991), a grand speculation about the CIA and the nature of power in America. Others are much shorter entertainments: Tough Guys Don't Dance (1984) is a pastiche crime thriller in the manner of Dashiell Hammett. The reception of Mailer's fiction has varied wildly, but the reputation of The Naked and the Dead (1948) seems secure. A realist study of conflict, both within the army and against the Japanese, the novel draws upon Mailer's war service in the Pacific. An American Dream (1965) was published in serial form, and initially greeted with derision for its luridly sensational plot involving wife-murderer Stephen Rojack and his existential speculations about sex, violence, and corruption. But it is a compelling book and has become a modern classic; the rich texture of Mailer's prose, placed alongside hardbitten dialogue, carries the murder thriller into the sphere of the philosophical novel. A good introduction to the range of Mailer's work would be a recent omnibus selection, The Time of Our Time (1998).

Don DeLillo, Tom Wolfe, Ernest Hemingway, James Jones.


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