Norman Mailer still obsessed with WWII

By Carmen Comment

AICN’s Frank Bascombe sent word late yesterday afternoon that Norman Mailer will be publishing his first novel in, god, forever (OK, ten years, with 1997’s THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO THE SON being his last foray into fiction). And true to form, THE CASTLE IN THE FOREST – which Random House publishes on January 23, 2007 – goes back to similar territory that made Mailer famous more than 60 years before with THE NAKED AND THE DEAD, but with a twist: it’s all about Adolf, and based on the copy in RH’s winter catalog it’s going to be an entertaining family saga! Like, totally cool!

So sayeth the catalog copy: “Who was Adolf Hitler? It’s a question writers have been trying to answer for more than sixty years. But after thousands of biographies, histories, novels, and films, many fundamental questions remain: How do we explain Hitler’s hatred? Where did it come from? Could it happen again? Norman Mailer sets out to respond to these and other crucial aspects of Hitler’s personality in his compulsively readable new novel. Spanning three generations, and a hundred years of history, the book brings to life the Hitlers – grandparents, parents, aunts, uncles, siblings, and, ultimately, young Adolf – in an energetic and wildly entertaining family saga. Mailer recounts the marriages, incestuous couplings, estrangements, afflictions, and deaths that lead to the birth of young Adolf in 1889. Told in the voice of a mysterious (and unreliable) narrator, this playful yet profound novel blends fact and fiction in a stirring family tale that will cause the reader to re- examine his preconceived ideas about Hitler and the nature of his evil.”

Now, I don’t doubt that Mailer will devote oodles and oodles of pages to the subject, but I doubt I’m the only one who agrees with the assessment that over time, he’s become “marginalized and irrelevant.”

(Ron adds: I dunno about Mailer’s legacy, but I can’t imagine that this Hitler novel could possibly be more fun than 1989’s The New Adventures of Hitler, a serialized comic strip by Grant Morrison and Steve Yeowell which imagines that a young Adolf crashed at his half-brother’s house in Liverpool and had rather unusual and anachronistic visions. But don’t take my word for it; read chapters 1-6 and chapters 7-12 online, if your modem’s fast enough.)