Friday, 6 March 2015

THE NAKED AND THE DEAD by Norman Mailer

This book has a fantastic title. But that's about all I find to commend. It's a war novel, and when you set out to write a war novel you've got some very serious competition. I suspect ALL QUIET ON THE WESTERN FRONT has said everything that really needs to be said; the rest of military fiction is mostly footnotes. And this is a pretty minor footnote. It' written by a 24 year old who, once drafted, saw service mostly in the military kitchen, and it shows. The book is full of the glamour of war, and not much else. Even the traditional scene, common to all war stories, in which the young recruit is killed near the beginning, is glamorous. I've never read about brain splatter in so romantic a vein. Wikipedia tells me that this book spent 62 weeks at the top of the best seller lists in the 1948, but is 'rarely read today,' and I can see why. But what the hell. Lucky Norman Mailer. It's not every 24 year old who manages a best seller.

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