Books: The Crack-Up

ADVERTISEMENTS FOR MYSELF (532 pp.) —Norman Mailer—Putnam ($5),

Like other writers struck by early success, Novelist Norman Mailer, 36, is fond of discussing his talent, often in terms that make it sound like a prize begonia. "America is a cruel soil for talent," he writes. "It stunts it, blights it, uproots it, or overheats it with cheap fertilizer." In this book, Author Mailer (The Naked and the Dead) sets aside the arduous business of novel writing and takes up horticulture. His first book in four years is a rock garden of schoolboy short stories,...

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