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On God: An Uncommon Conversation Paperback – November 4, 2008


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Random House Trade Paperbacks; Reprint edition (November 4, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0812979400
  • ISBN-13: 978-0812979404
  • Product Dimensions: 7.9 x 5.1 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 7 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (24 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #901,216 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

Praise for On God
 
“[Norman Mailer’s] theology is not theoretical to him. After eight decades, it is what he believes. He expects no adherents, and does not profess to be a prophet, but he has worked to forge his beliefs into a coherent catechism.”New York
 
“The glory of an original mind in full provocation.”USA Today
 
“At once illuminating and exciting . . . a chance to see Mailer’s intellect as well as his lively conversational style of speech.”American Jewish Life
 
“Remarkable . . . [Mailer’s] a believer—in his own fashion. . . . He has made [God] into a complex character.”The Globe and Mail
 
Praise for Norman Mailer
 
“[Norman Mailer] loomed over American letters longer and larger than any other writer of his generation.”The New York Times
 
“A writer of the greatest and most reckless talent.”The New Yorker
 
“Mailer is indispensable, an American treasure.”The Washington Post
 
“A devastatingly alive and original creative mind.”Life
 
“Mailer is fierce, courageous, and reckless and nearly everything he writes has sections of headlong brilliance.”The New York Review of Books
 
“The largest mind and imagination [in modern] American literature . . . Unlike just about every American writer since Henry James, Mailer has managed to grow and become richer in wisdom with each new book.”Chicago Tribune
 
“Mailer is a master of his craft. His language carries you through the story like a leaf on a stream.”The Cincinnati Post

About the Author

Born in 1923 in Long Branch, New Jersey, and raised in Brooklyn, New York, Norman Mailer was one of the most influential writers of the second half of the twentieth century and a leading public intellectual for nearly sixty years. He is the author of more than thirty books. The Castle in the Forest, his last novel, was his eleventh New York Times bestseller. His first novel, The Naked and the Dead, has never gone out of print. His 1968 nonfiction narrative, The Armies of the Night, won the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Award. He won a second Pulitzer for The Executioner’s Song and is the only person to have won Pulitzers in both fiction and nonfiction. Five of his books were nominated for National Book Awards, and he won a lifetime achievement award from the National Book Foundation in 2005. Mr. Mailer died in 2007 in New York City.


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Customer Reviews

4.2 out of 5 stars
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Read the book for Mailer's answer to this one question alone.
Wordsworth
I do not typically read books on the subject of God, but somehow I was drawn to this book and ended up finding it very enlightening.
Woody Goulart
He says there is a struggle between God and Satan and we see this divine struggle as the clash of good and evil.
Stephen Williams

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

28 of 31 people found the following review helpful By Wordsworth on November 10, 2007
Format: Hardcover
I read "Miami and the Siege of Chicago" shortly after it was published. It was a fairly decent book. But I saw Mailer was a second-tier novelist who considered himself, vainly, to be absolutely first-tier. He admired Hemingway too much and modeled his behavior after that vastly more talented American novelist. Mailer wanted to be Hemingway. But Mailer never really evidenced Hemingway's bold grace or prolific talent and never really pulled off the clownish, public ruses, which ultimately now diminish him. As for existentialism, Mailer liked to quote Nietzsche and Dostoyevsky. I'm not sure how well he really understood Sartre or Kierkegaard or Gabriel Marcel or Heidegger. But Mailer brands himself as an existentialist because he seems to love the sound of the word, which he too often repeats, and wants you to believe he is "authentic" -- the real thing. Mailer comes off as a narcissist, which he is, of course, and lives at the center of his own cosmos: God is an author, God forbid. Having said all of this candidly, "On God" offers some fresh and profound theology: it turns out that Mailer is far superior, later in life, as a theologian than over a long career as a novelist. His approach to the big question as to "If God is good and all powerful, why is there so much evil?" is convincing and cogent and enlightened. Read the book for Mailer's answer to this one question alone. He offers some of the most insightful, however speculative, perspective on the authentic reality of the relationship between God and the Devil since the epic poetry of Milton in "Paradise Lost." He attacks the inauthenticity rampant among organized religion.Read more ›
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19 of 20 people found the following review helpful By Ben L. Graham on November 26, 2007
Format: Hardcover
During much of his long and illustrious career in American letters, Norman Mailer wrote extensively about his beliefs concerning God, the Devil and the war between good and evil, as well as man's role in this cosmological struggle. The foundation of Mailer's cosmology is based on the idea that God is not all-good and all-powerful, but is an existential God doing the best that He/She can do. His thoughts and beliefs relating to his religious system were often expressed implicitly in his novels and more explicitly in his non-fiction. Now, with the publication of this excellent book, On God, we have Mailer's thoughts on these topics systematized and expanded over the course of more than two hundred fascinating and stimulating pages. The book is in the form of an interview as indicated by the subtitle "An Uncommon Conversation." This interview took place at intervals over the course of three years - from June 2003 to June 2006. The interrogator, Michael Lennon, is very skillful at extracting Mailer's thoughts, getting further explications, always probing deeper, reminiscent, in a way to Melville's description of peeling the onion, layer by layer, to get to the deeper meanings one finds below. The reader is often as pleased with the manner in which ideas develop as in the actual ideas themselves. The book seems spontaneous and fresh even though Mailer had been thinking about the topics covered for the past fifty years.

On God will certainly prove to be invaluable to Mailer scholars or for that matter to anyone who loves to read his books since an intelligent comprehension of his works is not possible without an understanding of his metaphysics. This book should also be of interest to anyone who has an open mind with regard to religious questions.
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51 of 61 people found the following review helpful By Calvin R. Hendrix on March 28, 2008
Format: Hardcover
I have always admired Mailer for his writing style, but not his opinions. It came as a major shock that a Progressive like Mailer would even acknowledge the existance of God, Good and Evil. Maybe there is hope for the Dark Side after all. It seems that Mamet also has finally seen the Light.

I think people of all Faiths would find this book a worthwhile read even though some of Mailer's opinions may be offensive. Give it a chance.

A good read from an newly-enlightened man as he approached mortality.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Robert J. Begiebing on November 7, 2007
Format: Hardcover
In On God, Michael Lennon, President of the Norman Mailer Society, asks America's most infamous grand old literary lion both respectful and pointed questions that add up to an exegesis of Mailer's long-developing metaphysical speculations that have for five decades informed Mailer's work, especially his fiction since The Naked and the Dead. Those interested in Mailer and in understanding his work will truly benefit from this more or less final, culminating analysis and presentation of the author's thought. In addition, the reader discovers a new way of looking at ethics, personal and national, for the 21st century. "The reason we are having these dialogues," Mailer says, "is that Fundamentalist notions of absolute authority are too much of a manic faith machine capable of inspiring world disasters."
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Dr. Barry H. Leeds on October 21, 2007
Format: Hardcover
In this rich book, the theological and thematic preoccupations that have implicitly informed Norman Mailer's vast body of work are rendered explicit. The combination of Mailer's brilliant insight and Michael Lennon's erudition results in a sophisticated but accessible explanation of Mailer's theology, notably the ongoing battle between God and the Devil over the souls of men and women, with humankind representing the third vector of power in this struggle. This is a fascinating read.
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