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The Reading List: July 2012

FIRST HALF OF THE MONTH: THE CASTLE IN THE FOREST

No career in modern American letters is at once so brilliant, varied, and controversial as that of Norman Mailer. In a span of more than six decades, Mailer has searched into subjects ranging from World War II to ancient Egypt, from the march on the Pentagon to Marilyn Monroe, from Henry Miller and Muhammad Ali to Jesus Christ. Now, in The Castle in the Forest, his first major work of fiction in more than a decade, Mailer offers what may be his consummate literary endeavour: He has set out to explore the evil of Adolf Hitler.

The narrator, a mysterious SS man in possession of some extraordinary secrets, takes the young Adolf from birth through his adolescence. En route, revealing portraits are offered of Hitler’s father and mother, and his sisters and brothers.

A tapestry of unforgettable characters, The Castle in the Forest delivers it myriad twits and surprises with astonishing insight into the nature of the struggle between good and evil that exists in us all. At its core is a hypothesis that this novel employs with stunning originality. Now, on the eve of his eighty-fourth birthday, Norman Mailer may well be saying more than he has ever before.

AUTHOR: NORMAN MAILER

Norman Mailer was born in 1923 in Long Beach, New Jersey, and grew up in Brooklyn, New York. In 1955, he was one of the co-founders of The Village Voice. He is the author of more than thirty books, including The Naked and the Dead; The Armies of the Night, for which he won a National Book Award and the Pulitzer Prize; Harlot’s Ghost; Oswald’s Tale; and The Gospel According to the Son. He lives in Provincetown, Massachusetts, with his wife, the novelist Norris Church Mailer.

SECOND HALF OF THE MONTH: THE FINAL SOLUTION

Retired to the English countryside, an eighty-nine-year-old man, rumoured to be a once-famous detective, is more concerned with his beekeeping that with his fellow man. Into his life wanders Linus Steinman, nine years old and mute, who has escaped from Nazi Germany with his sole companion: an African gray parrot.

What is the meaning of the mysterious strings of German numbers the bird spews out – a top-secret SS code? The keys to a series of Swiss bank accounts? Or do they hold a significance both more prosaic and far more sinister?
Though the solution may be beyond even the reach of the once-famous sleuth, the true story of the boy and his parrot is subtly revealed in a wrenching solution.

AUTHOR: MICHAEL CHABON

Michael Chabon is the Pulitzer Prize-winning and bestselling author of The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay. He has received wide critical acclaim for his previous books, including Wonder Boys, Werewolves in Their Youth, The Mysteries of Pittsburgh, and A Model World. He lives in Berkeley, California.

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my read shelf:
Jowana Bueser's book recommendations, liked quotes, book clubs, book trivia, book lists (read shelf)

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