Cinema: Norman's Phantasmagoria

Bodyguards plotting to assassinate the presidential candidate. Black revolutionaries seducing debutantes. Nubile whores lounging around a swimming pool. Moans of lovemaking. Grunts of violence. Novelist Norman Mailer's Maidstone is a bombardment of sense impressions and fragments of fantasy, a collage that its author has quite aptly subtitled "a mystery."

After more than a year of appearances at film festivals, museums and private screenings, the mystery is finally being made public. But it comes with no simple solution. Maidstone has no real narrative line. It is an inkblot test of Mailer's own subconscious, which the...

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