Last year, J. Michael Lennon, Norman Mailer’s authorized biographer, brought out nearly 1,000 pages packed with everything thought or said by or about Mailer, his life, his friends and enemies, his work that seemed to obviate the need for any further biographical data. But a year has passed, and Mr. Lennon (also Mailer’s official archivist) is back with a volume, nearly as thick and heavy, of Mailer’s correspondence.
This collection, intended to be in celebration of the New Republic’s centenary, will be looked at more as a requiem. This month, the magazine’s editor, Franklin Foer, and its long-standing and widely respected literary editor, Leon Wieseltier, left the magazine after a difference in vision with the owner, 30-year-old Chris Hughes. The magazine is moving back to New York City — its home for the first decades of its existence — and will be transformed, in the words of Mr. Hughes, into a “digital media company.” Mr. Hughes purchased the company only two years ago but seems to have tired of its place in American letters.
Neither the formal portrait of the aging, reflective mournful figure that takes up most of the front cover of the book nor the richly adorned matron in her prime on its back cover has much to do with the woman so vividly brought to life in these pages. In fact, they might be said to reflect the very images A.N. Wilson wants to correct.
Who was to rule China after Japan’s surrender? The ruling Nationalists were led by Generalissimo Chiang Kai-shek, but their writ did not run to many parts of the country. The Communists had controlled China’s northern provinces for most of the war, and the alliance between the Communists and the Nationalists had been fragile.
Most of the time books are commodities: familiar objects that we pretty much ignore as we open them and focus on their text rather than their physical characteristics. Occasionally, though, books demand attention for themselves. Coffee-table books, radiant with pictures, are examples. Similarly, illustrated museum catalogs, facsimiles of old books or specially bound collectors’ editions wave their hands so that we notice them rather than speed straight to printed pages.
There is no shortage of reading material about Abraham Lincoln’s life and political career.
War dogs are more than dogs. They are testimony to what dogs are and can be.