The Big Empty: Dialogues on Politics, Sex, God, Boxing, Morality, Myth, Poker and Bad Conscience in America

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9781560258247: The Big Empty: Dialogues on Politics, Sex, God, Boxing, Morality, Myth, Poker and Bad Conscience in America

Questions are posed, writes Norman Mailer, "in the hope they will open into richer insights, which in turn will bring forth sharper questions." In this series of conversations, John Buffalo Mailer, 27, poses a series of questions to his father, challenging the reflections and insights of the man who has dominated and defined much of American letters for the past sixty years. Their wide-ranging discussions take place over the course of a year, beginning in July 2004. Set against the backdrop of George W. Bush's re-election campaign and the war in Iraq, each considers what it means to live in America today. John asks his father to look back to World War II, and explore the parallels that can—and cannot—be drawn between that time and our current post-9/11 consciousness. As their conversations develop, the topics shift from the political to the personal to the political again, as they duck and weave around one another. They explore their shared admiration of boxing and poker, the nature of marriage and love, television, movies, writing, and what it means to be a part of this extraordinary family.

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About the Author:

Norman Mailer was born in 1923 and published his first book, The Naked and the Dead, in 1948. The Armies of the Night won the National Book Award and the Pulitzer Prize in 1969. Mailer recieved another Pulitzer in 1980 for The Executioner's Song. He lives in Provincetown, MA, and Brooklyn, NY.
John Buffalo Mailer is an actor, screenwriter and journalist. He lives in Brooklyn, NY.

From Publishers Weekly:

Dialogues" is a generous term for the discussions, in which the 82-year-old Norman Mailer answers questions from his 27-year-old son on subjects ranging from the topical—the Bush administration, the war in Iraq, corporate culture—to the more general—boxing, cards, women (his famous, quiet and insidious misogyny is revealed as that of one who has been married six times and claims to "love women"). Dialogue implies equality, but this is clearly the "great man" handing down his truths to an adoring audience. Each man represents liberal ideas characteristic of his generation, and while it's easy for any like-minded reader to agree with much of what they say, the book doesn't add anything new to the larger political discourse. The thoughts offered are not nuanced enough to get at the heart of any issue. The structure doesn't help things along: small chapters deal with individual themes ("The Problem of Leadership," "Four More Years?"), thus separating what should have been unified. (Mar.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

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Mailer, Norman; Mailer, John Buffalo
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Norman Mailer, John Buffalo Mailer
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Norman Mailer; John Buffalo Mailer
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