Saturday, November 03, 2007

like the red & brown of a verboten flag (Mailer 1.0)

I'm not especially a fan of Norman Mailer's sentences - and not too much more, of his books on the whole. But Miami and the Siege of Chicago is in all respects a beautiful book. The writing of it and in it is, by far, I think, the finest and most interesting of all Mailer. Wow, these sentences. This writer was chugging in '68.

In the first half of the book--the section about the Republican national conventional in Miami, at which Nixon easily put down Rockefeller and the Nixonite GOP rolled over all opposition with smiling faces and louder-than-thou celebrating on the convention floor--Mailer finds himself heading for the bar, and then, typically, back to the hall to drink in the scene. Mailer noticed that Nixon had not won over the Goldwater Right even at the same time that he believed he had. Here are two paragraphs, and please notice that the second of the two is fabulously gonzo, drunken language:

Nixon might have his dream to unify the land, but he would yet to have to stare, face to face, into the powre of his own Right Wing, soon to rise on the wave of these beer-hall blasts, the worst of the Wasp, all bull in his muscles, all murder in his neck - would Nixon have the stance to meet them? Or would he fall captive to the madmen in the pits of his own party, those madmen absent from Miami, those madmen concealed this week? The convention had been peaceful, too peaceful by far.

At large on the ocean, would people yet pray for Nixon and wish him strength as once they had wished strength to old Hindenburg and Dollfus and Schuschnigg and Von Papen? Oom-pah went the tuba, starts! went the horn. Blood and shit might soon be flying like the red and brown of a verboten flag. It had had black in it as well. For death, perhaps. They always did. And shave the shorn. God give strength to Richard Nixon, and a nose for the real news. Oom-pah went the tuba, farts went the horn.