Democracy According to Mailer Essay

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Democracy According to Mailer

Re-reading the bulk of my work in the course of a spring and summer, one theme came to predominate-it was apparent that most of my writing was about America. How much I loved our country-that was evident-and how much I didn't love it at all!
-Norman Mailer, foreword to Time of Our Time

The first time I read anything written by Norman Mailer-it was an excerpt from the Vietnam-era Armies of the Night-I remember two things coming to my mind. The first thing that popped into my head: what an arrogant, self-righteous jerk this Mailer guy is! What kind of egotistical writer places himself in his own novel? What new-age Narcissus finds the tragic flaw of every individual he encounters? What brand of
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His writings offer an invaluable historical memoir of sorts, the piercing thoughts of a man involved in the essence of what America has been for most of the 20th century. A Harvard graduate who served in World War II, co-founded The Village Voice, ran for political office, and provided a major voice for the anti-Vietnam movement, Mailer's "been there, done that" point of view gives readers a vital perspective on what America truly is, underneath the red, white, and blue facade every small town, big city, and baby-kissing politician bears (Mailer 1305).

Mailer set himself the goal of offering "some hint at a societal and cultural history over these last 50 years," and by creating such a body of work, Mailer gives America a rare opportunity, the chance to look itself in the mirror, accept the good and bad of what exists, and decide to improve upon what it can for the generations of Americans yet to be born (xi). He knew that our democracy was riddled with anti-Enlightenment contradictions, trumpeting the virtues of liberty and equality while over half the American population remained legally inferior for more than 170 years. In a country that prides itself on every citizen having an active voice in the realm of lawmaking, he saw the tight-knit relationship between government and corporate corruption bind itself to the

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