Books: The Public Act

AN AMERICAN DREAM by Norman Mailer. 270 pages. Dial. $4.95.

If Norman Mailer is not the best U.S. novelist of his time, he is certainly the most conspicuous. No literary cocktail party or TV panel is complete without him, whether he appears in his role of spokesman for the intellectual left or as prophet of the new morality.

In fact, what appears to have occupied most of his energy during the last decade is not novel writing but a messianic effort at transmogrifying the entire U.S.—society, psyches, applecarts and all. That this is the business of a holy man, or an adman, does...

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