Never Come Morning is my favorite American novel, full stop. But this here is a remarkably bitchy memoir/parody.
Mailer as Norman Manlifellow, “the boyish author of The Elk Paddock or Look Ma, My Fly Is Open? Ok, heavy-handed but ok. Alfred Paperfish must be Edmund Wilson, and his wife with “just time for a quickie” is Mary McCarthy. Leon Urine, author of The Whole World Looks Jewish When You’re in Love, Roth maybe? Ginny Ginstruck? I don’t know, an editor or agent, a woman anyway, certainly someone he didn’t like. But Baldwin as Giovanni Johnson, lisping in cliche Gay and singing Dis train don’t carry no gamblers, that’s not funny, sorry, no. The parts that are genuinely respectful only make the nasty bits nastier. And a speech about how Negroes have been “‘knocked down, strung up, run over, banjaxed, castrated, jillflirted, stomped, harassed, jeered at, vilified, despised, warped’ — he paused to change fingers, as he tires easily…” No, again not funny. Black men really were castrated. It isn’t funny even if you juxtapose it with a couple nonsense words.
Algren, beautiful writer, bitter man.