It must be something to do with the nights drawing in but it seems like walking through treacle reading a book these last few weeks. Luckily there is light at the end of the tunnel with this heavy Mailer tome and when he starts going on about masturbation, the enjoyment of a father feeling his son’s buttocks and old perverts like Der Alte the end cannot come soon enough.
Watching Downfall the other night for the second time it struck me that where this book struggles is to try and make a young boy seem evil. In Downfall you know what Hitler has done and that is why it is possible to watch a situation that in other circumstances would inspire sympathy with a detached interest. The problem here is that it has to be worked on all the time that Hitler has the makings of a mass murdering egomaniac.
The result is that he is implicated in the death of his brother Edmund by passing him the measles and he is taught to appreciate the qualities of showing no pain but exploiting his strength of personality to command others.
It might have worked but Mailer makes almost every other character equally distorted and the more the father becomes a monster, apparently unassisted by demons but helped by drink, it makes Adolf seem almost normal, one grotesque in a gallery of them.
With the last 67 pages waiting it will be interesting to see how Mailer leaves it.