Super Lawyers
William C. Altreuter

Thursday, April 12, 2007

I can't find it right now, but somewhere Norman Mailer says that the reason he wrote "The Naked and the Dead" about the Pacific Theater was because he felt that an American wouldn't write the great novel about the war in Europe-- that the historical resonance of the destruction of that civilization was not something that a writer from our young culture could properly capture. Oddly enough, it may actually turn out that the greatest novel about World War Two was written by an American-- and that it has space aliens in it and a whole lot of other weird, science fiction stuff. As much as I like and admire "The Naked and the Dead", "Slaughterhouse Five" might be the greater achievement-- a book only Kurt Vonnegut could have written, and a book that manages, in its jejune American way to speak to precisely the things that Mailer knew he wouldn't be able to capture. I have come a long way on Vonnegut, who used to annoy the hell out of me. I thought he was facile, but now I know better how difficult that sort of breezy honesty really is. When you consider it, it is a very Vonnegut thing that he lived something like sixty years knowing that he was on completely borrowed time. I'm not sure what a suitable remembrance might be. Try to keep in mind that we are all on borrowed time, maybe.

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