The Castle in the Forest

For a less fawning and more nuanced review of Mailer’s newest than that which appears in Sunday’s New York Times, try Ron Hansen in the LA Times.

A great deal of this historical material is plausible. Mailer has
demonstrated wonderfully in "The Executioner’s Song" and the Russian
sections of "Oswald’s Tale: An American Mystery" that he is capable of
first-rate, even groundbreaking research, and he is a master prose
stylist whose verve and eccentric points of view are never
uninteresting. But on the whole, though intriguing, this is an odd book
— a sort of narrative parade, in which one event simply follows another
without the heightened trajectory that we expect of a novel. Ending
"The Castle in the Forest" as he does, with Hitler still a teenager,
Mailer seems only to have prepared the material, not to have fully
examined it. The Hitler of infamy — the Hitler whose evil is more fully
considered in some of the 100-plus entries in Mailer’s "Bibliography" —
has not yet come into being.

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Two interesting books of criticism of imaginative works about Hitler are Alvin H. Rosenfeld’s Imagining Hitler (1985) and his son Gavriel D. Rosenfeld’s The World Hitler Never Made (2005).


The Surrender is Veronica Scott Esposito’s “collection of facts” concerning how she embraced her true gender.


Two long essays of 10,000 words each on sex in—and out of—literature . . .

The first essay dives in to Nicholson Baker’s “sex trilogy,” explaining just what Baker is up to here and why these books ultimately fail to be as sexy as Baker might wish.

From there the book moves on to the second essay, which explains just why Spaniard Javier Marías does right what Baker does wrong . . .


5 essays. 2 interviews.

All in all, over 25,000 words of Latin American literary goodness.

3 never-before-published essays, including “The Digression”—a 4,000-word piece on the most important digression in César Aira’s career.

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