in Primary


An American Dream. New York: Dial, 15 March. London: Deutsch, 26 April. Novel, 270 pp., $4.95.

An American Dream (1965)

Dedication and acknowledgment: “To Beverly and to Michael Burks; an appreciation to Anne Barry, Richard Baron, Walter Minton, Harold Hayes, Donald Fine and not least, Scott Meredith.” Mailer’s fourth wife, Beverly Bentley, is the woman pictured on the dustwrapper of the first edition. Rpt: First appeared, in a different form, in Esquire, January-August 1964 (64.2-64.9); partial in 98.7. See 63.13, 65.3, 65.5, 65.9, 65.11, 70.4, 70.14, 83.6.


It’s a novel of suspense, not of intellectual action. I wanted an intellectual for a hero who was engaged in 32 hours of continuous action and so did not have time to cerebrate. But the only idea in An American Dream (it is the idea which I think makes the book so repellent to some reviewers) is that love is the one human condition we never capture without paying an extraordinary and continuing price. This is certainly not a new idea. But it is desperately out of fashion now, and besides—I did my best to pose this lone idea in as vivid and unendurable a manner as possible. (65.11)