The Big Empty: Dialogues on Politics, Sex, God, Boxing, Morality, Myth, Poker, and Bad Conscience in America

Norman Mailer, Author, John Buffalo Mailer, Author . Nation $14.95 (218p) ISBN 978-1-56025-824-7

Dialogues" is a generous term for the discussions, in which the 82-year-old Norman Mailer answers questions from his 27-year-old son on subjects ranging from the topical—the Bush administration, the war in Iraq, corporate culture—to the more general—boxing, cards, women (his famous, quiet and insidious misogyny is revealed as that of one who has been married six times and claims to "love women"). Dialogue implies equality, but this is clearly the "great man" handing down his truths to an adoring audience. Each man represents liberal ideas characteristic of his generation, and while it's easy for any like-minded reader to agree with much of what they say, the book doesn't add anything new to the larger political discourse. The thoughts offered are not nuanced enough to get at the heart of any issue. The structure doesn't help things along: small chapters deal with individual themes ("The Problem of Leadership," "Four More Years?"), thus separating what should have been unified. (Mar.)

Reviewed on: 01/09/2006
Release date: 01/01/2006
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