Friday, July 27, 2001

The Executioner's Song

I'm presently reading The Executioner's Song, by Norman Mailer. It's a long book (over a thousand pages), and it somewhat mirrors the story line from Theodore Dreiser's An American Tragedy.

Last night, I read a powerful sentence by Mailer:
The violence of Portland licked right up to the edge of the store and left a spew like that yellow foam on city beaches where old rubber dries out with jellyfish and whiskey bottles and the dead squid.
What an amazing sentence! Such imagery! You feel the words when they're strung together so superbly.

How did I chance to be reading this? A few months ago, I read an article about Louis Menand, who recently wrote The Metaphysical Club: A Story of Ideas in America. Mr. Menand was asked what his favorite books were, and one of them was The Executioner's Song. He had high enthusiasm for this book, and I made a mental note to pick this up as soon as I could. I have not been disappointed so far, and I don't anticipate being disappointed.

I once thought it'd be an interesting exercise to describe the various threads between the ten books I've read so far this year, but the leading spark has been, more often than not, whimsy. Still, it delights me when whimsy leads me to text like I've read in Mailer's book. I'm savoring every bit of it.

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