Monday, December 14, 2009


The Deer Park, Norman Mailer, G P Putnam's Sons, 1955, 375 pp

I did not find much to admire in Mailer's third novel. After spending some time as a screenwriter in Hollywood, he turned his experience into this novel portraying the insanity, the deals, the sex and the drinking of Hollywood players.

Most of the story takes place at an imaginary resort out in the desert east of Hollywood. Mailer switches back and forth between first person (for a young man who comes to the resort with money he won in a poker game as he was being discharged from the air force) and the third person (for other characters who include an actress, a failed writer, a producer and several other unsavory characters.) This device is not wholly successful and gave me an uncomfortable jolt each time he switched.

There is lots of sex, which is not badly written, and places Mailer in his usual position of being ahead of his time, because sex hits the bestsellers big time beginning in 1956 with Peyton Place, among others. This book is one of the few I've read so far in this project which shows the sick underbelly of Hollywood, another story which will become a genre in itself.

(The Deer Park is currently out of print, as far as I can tell. I found it at my local library and it is also available on-line at various used bookseller sites.)

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