After the relative failure of his third book, "The Deer Park (my theory for why it failed: it sucked), Mailer took nearly a decade off from novels, returning in 1965 with "An American Dream," the story of a man who murders his wife. The heavy-handed irony of the title is a clear reference to Dreiser's "An American Tragedy," which is also about a man who murders a woman. This is Mailer at his most brutal, unhinged and libidinous and it's a thoroughly ugly and unpleasant read, with absurd sex scenes redolent of Lawrence, borderline misogyny and a badly calculated scene where Mailer tries to imitate "black" speech. Truly terrible.
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