Two months after his death, the Norman Mailer Archive has finally opened in Texas. Containing 40, letters and "materials associated with every one of his Presumably, among the 1, plus boxes held there, at least one will shed some light on one of his lesser known works: Ancient Evenings. I had the rare pleasure of chancing across a copy while staying in a rented cottage over the holidays. To say I read it would be an exaggeration, but I read bits of it, with a growing sense of bewildered awe.

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Egypt, B. An unnerving, disorienting, promising beginning for this page novel—but then, alas, the Ka of Meni II meets the Ka of his great-grandfather Meni I, a much-reincarnated High Priest who will be the primary narrator in the six long, lifeless sequences that follow.

And, while Meni I's reminiscences go on and on, Meni II's passive father sleeps one can hardly blame him —but the six-year-old Meni II himself becomes increasingly aware of the sexual cracklings in the air: the lust between Ramses IX and Hathfertiti, the sexual secrets of Meni I and Hathfertiti. Did Mailer's research into Ancient Egypt reveal a cultural fixation on Oedipal incest, fellatio, anal rape, and castration anxiety?

Or is this a willful projection of Freudian preoccupations onto the world of the Pharaohs? Whichever the case, the result is oddly stagnant fiction—straining to conjure up a nexus between mysticism and sex. And though there are passages of vividly exotic Egyptology, along with a few of coarsely amusing anachronism, this flatly episodic epic most often seems embalmed in its own obsessions—with little to reward the many readets who'll be drawn by the Mailer name and the media interest.

Michael Lennon. A touching family drama that effectively explores the negative impact of stress on fragile relationships. A middle-aged woman returns to her childhood home to care for her ailing father, confronting many painful secrets from her past.

Gone is the rebellious young person she remembers, and in his place stands a compassionate, accomplished adult.

As Jack and Mallory chase down answers, Mallory also tries to repair her rocky relationships with her two sisters and determine why her father has always been so hard on her. Even so, Delinsky sometimes manages to pick up the pace, and in those moments the beauty and nuance of this complicated family tale shine through.

A love letter to the power of books and friendship. Women become horseback librarians in s Kentucky and face challenges from the landscape, the weather, and the men around them. Alice thought marrying attractive American Bennett Van Cleve would be her ticket out of her stifling life in England.

But when she and Bennett settle in Baileyville, Kentucky, she realizes that her life consists of nothing more than staying in their giant house all day and getting yelled at by his unpleasant father, who owns a coal mine. And even though all this makes Margery a town pariah, Alice quickly grows to like her. Alice spends long days in terrible weather on horseback, but she finally feels happy in her new life in Kentucky, even as her marriage to Bennett is failing.

She writes about Kentucky with lush descriptions of the landscape and tender respect for the townspeople, most of whom are poor, uneducated, and grateful for the chance to learn. Although Alice and Margery both have their own romances, the true power of the story is in the bonds between the women of the library.

They may have different backgrounds, but their commitment to helping the people of Baileyville brings them together. Already have an account? Log in. Trouble signing in? Retrieve credentials. Sign Up. Page Count: Publisher: Little, Brown. Review Posted Online: Sept. No Comments Yet. More by Norman Mailer. Page Count: Publisher: St. Show all comments. More by Barbara Delinsky. New York Times Bestseller. IndieBound Bestseller.

Pub Date: Oct. More by Jojo Moyes. More About This Book. Please sign up to continue. Almost there! Reader Writer Industry Professional. Send me weekly book recommendations and inside scoop. Keep me logged in. Sign in using your Kirkus account Sign in Keep me logged in. Need Help? Contact us: or email customercare kirkus. Please select an existing bookshelf OR Create a new bookshelf Continue.



HERE it is at last, morethan a decade in the making, the subject of ceaseless speculation while still a work in progress, billed by the publishers as a ''landmark in American letters'': Norman Mailer's long-awaited ''Egyptian novel. The most recent compliment came from Mailer's alma mater, Harvard; usually reserved in its relations with famous sons and daughters, the university put his photograph on the cover of its alumni magazine this spring and filled pages with an interview probing the meanings of ''Ancient Evenings. For a novel set in Egypt before the birth of Christ to rouse levels of excitement on the order of those inspired by ''Ancient Evenings'' is astonishing. Not more astonishing, though, I found, than the excitement stirred by the book's opening chapters - an excitement unrelated to hype.

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Catch of the day: Norman Mailer's worst book

Welcome sign in sign up. Our most conspicuous literary energy has generated its weirdest text, a book that defies usual aesthetic standards, even as it is beyond any conventional idea of good and evil. But Mailer has gone back to the ancient evenings of the Egyptians in order to find the religious meaning of death, sex, and reincarnation, using an outrageous literalism, not metaphor. Paranoia, in both these American amalgams of Prometheus and Narcissus, becomes a climate.



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Ancient Evenings

Look Inside. An extraordinary work of inventiveness, Ancient Evenings lives on in the mind long after the last page has been turned. The reader wallows in the scope, depth, the sheer magnitude and—yes—the fertility of his imagination. Unlike just about every American writer since Henry James, Mailer has managed to grow and become richer in wisdom with each new book. His language carries you through the story like a leaf on a stream. Born in 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…. More about Norman Mailer.

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