By now the whole idea that on top of this whole nature versus nurture debate they might be the influence of demons is starting to get disturbing. The problem is that although most of The Castle in the Forest goes past your eyes with you not really believing any of it, this central concept does start to get under your skin.
For the rest of it although there is plenty of historical references thrown in to make it all seem like a factual account (there is an extensive bibliography at the back showing the research has been done) it still seems unbelievable. Where mailer has been clever is that most accounts of Hitler start as young failed student with the pre 18 year-old days summed up in a brief chapter.
This might be a great idea for a novel to exploit a period that has not been widely written about but by now there are too many times that Mailer tries to suggest that seeds planted when Adolf was young came out in later life. For instance the bees being gassed and the swastika above the school entrance.
The problem is that as the story progresses and Adolf takes his seat as the eldest son after Alois junior burns his bridges after torching the bee hives, poisoning the dog and then stealing the horse and heading off to Vienna.
Now in a position of authority in the family Adolf starts to learn that enjoyment that can come from exercising authority via his voice and his position.
With not much more than 100 pages left to go it is going to be interesting to see where this story goes because although interesting right now it is nowhere near being a favourite read of 2007.
More to come…