An American Dream
) is Norman Mailer
's fourth novel, published by Dial Press
. Mailer wrote it in serialized form for Esquire
, consciously attempting to resurrect the methodology used by Charles Dickens
and other earlier novelists, with Mailer writing each chapter against monthly deadlines. The book is written in a poetic style heavy with metaphor that creates unique and hypnotizing narrative and dialogue.
The book's protagonist, Stephen Rojack, is a decorated war-hero and former congressman, a sensationalist talk-show host, and is an embodiment of the American Dream
. In an alcoholic rage, Rojack murders his estranged wife, a high society woman, and descends into a lurid underworld of Manhattan
jazz clubs, bars, and Mafia
intrigue after meeting Cherry McMahan, a night-club singer and the girlfriend of a highly placed mobster. Rojack feels liberated by the violence and imagines himself receiving messages from the moon, perceiving voices that command him to deny his guilt. He makes the death appear as a suicide, and maintains his innocence no matter how intense the scrutiny or severe the consequences. In the course of the next twenty four hours, Rojack sets his will against the New York City Police Department, the intimidation of an erratic black entertainer who draws a knife on him, and the gathered political clout of his dead wife's father, Barney Oswald Kelly, who suggests that higher political affairs have an interest in Rojack's fate.
The book was controversial for... Read More