An American Dream Background

An American Dream Background

An American Dream is a Novel authored by Norman Mailer in 1965. The book was serialized in the magazine Esquire. The serialized method was earlier used by famous authors such as Charles Dickens. Every chapter of the novel was authored based on a monthly deadline. In 1963, Mailer had written for the Esquire column two major columns: “Big Bite” and “Responses and Reactions.” Mailer divorced from his third wife Jeanne Campbell and shortly married Beverly Bentley. These experiences are vividly captured and reflected in the novel, An American Dream, which Mailer started shortly after divorcing his third wife.

The protagonist and narrator of the story possess similarities with the author. They went to Harvard, fought in the Second World War, stabbed their wives, are interested in politics, and participated in several talk shows. The style of the novel appeared to have developed from the column, “Big Bites,” he wrote for Esquire. The account is edgy, showcasing the hallmark of Mailer powers of narration. The book was materialized after Mailer approached the editor with the idea that would make him produce this masterpiece. The editor agreed and Mailer announced the start of the novel in his last column in the “Big Bite.”

The novel covers 32 hours of the life of protagonist Stephen Rojack, a war hero, talk show host, former congressman, and professor of existential psychology at a university in New York. He is very much in the public eye. Rojack separates from his wife, Deborah, whose father was very wealthy. One night, he develops schizophrenic tendencies (the moon talks to him). In an effort to combat the voice of the moon, he murders his rich and successful wife. After that, he goes on the run in a city in which he roamed as a rich and privileged citizen.

The book was adapted as a film released in 1966. It was directed by Robert Gist, written by Mann Rubin, and starred Stuart Whitman, Janet Leigh, and Eleanor Parker. It bombed at the box office and received poor reviews. One reviewer called the film too violent. It has a rating of 5.3 out of 10 stars on movie site IMDB.com. It received an Oscar nomination for Best Original Song for “A Time for Love.”

Upon release, An American Dream was met with solid — albeit polarized — reviews. On book review aggregator Goodreads.com, it holds a rating of 3.45 out of 5 stars. On Amazon, it has a similar rating of 3.4 out of 5 stars. Vogue called the book, "the only serious New York novel since The Great Gatsby." Another critic, Stanley Edgar Hyman, said the novel's "awfulness is really indescribable" and called it pretentious.

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