Sunday, February 04, 2007

12. "The Castle in the Forest" ~ Norman Mailer

The first novel from Norman Mailer in more than ten years automatically gets a free "bump up the list" card.

In this novel, he tackles the childhood of Adolf Hitler, son of Alois and Klara - who are actually father and daughter, but thought of as uncle and niece. Confused? Just wait.

Told from the perspective of a demon serving the devil (or Maestro), the reader is coated with crap (literally) and incest, as if this explains the latter behavior of Hitler. Well, besides having a devil on his side.

The narrator is clever, though. "Humans are at present doing their best to be beholden neither to God nor to the Maestro. They seek to be free. [...] All the while, we devils guide the people we have attracted (we do call them clients), the Cudgels contest us, and many a particular individual does his or her best to fight off both sides. Humans have become so vain (through technology) that more than a number expect by now to become independent of God and the Devil."

There are six pages of tightly spaced bibliography notes, which implies truthfulness in the telling. In the end, it's not so much the fight for Hitler's soul, but the theological applications of heaven, hell, truth, etc. that carries the reader's interest.

3.75 out of 5.0 What the Hells.


Gina Marie said...

Might put it on my Book Mooch list. :-)

Kristin Dodge said...

Actually, I heard "Sympathy for the Devil" by the Rolling Stones on my way home today and thought that it was a better portrayal of the "Maestro." A lot shorter, too.

Jason said...

I recently read some negative press about this book, but I can't remember anything specific, so I must have decided to ignore it and read for myself.

I think I'll read it for myself.