An American DreamBook |
Mailer lets the crazy out in this man-kills-wife psychodrama.
First published serially in Esquire, Norman Mailer's An American Dream brashly upends any sense of logical morality when its antihero, Stephen Rojack, knocks off his wife Deborah after hearing the moon speak to him. With winding sentences and a helter-skelter collection of tropes, Mailer captures the zany glee of his killer: on the night of Deborah's murder the prose takes on a party-like tone, with Rojack sucking in glittery experiences—a quick romp with his European maid after the murder, an escapade with a notorious lounge singer—that are as dangerous as they are sexual. Inserted between these breathtaking glimpses of sinister decadence are encounters with shady characters whose immorality provides a sense of dark humor. Unfortunately Rojack's initial conversation with the moon winds up seeming so out of place, so outside the world of the killer's mania, that it somewhat overshadows the brilliance that follows. Despite this flaw, An American Dream provides in its antihero a killer shocking and eloquent enough to destroy any sense of universal morality as easily as he can throw his wife's corpse out the window.