in Primary


Of a Fire on the Moon. Boston: Little, Brown, 11 January; London: Weidenfeld and Nicolson, 3 September, with a different title: A Fire on the Moon. Nonfiction narrative, 472 pp., $7.95.

Dedication: “For Susan, for Dandy, for Betsey [sic] and Kate, for Michael and Stephen Mailer.” Because both the American and British editions carry a 1970 copyright date, and advance excerpts appeared in 1969 and 1970, there has been confusion about the precedence of these editions, and the actual dates of publication, which are as stated above. Nominated for the National Book Award in the sciences category. Rpt: Mailer’s three-part series in Life on the 1969 moon shot (69.81, 69.83, 70.1) was incorporated, with major revisions, into Of a Fire on the Moon; 98.7 (partial). See 69.34, 72.7.


Nonetheless, he might be in superb shape to study the flight of Apollo 11 to the moon. For he was detached this season from the imperial demands of his ego; he could think about astronauts, space, space programs, and the moon, quite free of the fact that none of these heroes, presences, and forces were by any necessity friendly to him. No, he felt like a spirit of some just-consumed essence of the past, and so finally took the liberty to christen himself Aquarius. (71.1)