harlot's ghost

Norman Mailer’s outline for Harlot’s Ghost. As he states in his 2007 Art of Fiction interview, “Some say with bland certitude, Of course Mailer is a good nonfiction writer—he’s not much of a novelist. That irritates me, yes. Because the person saying that is just not familiar with my work. No one could read Harlot’s Ghost and say it’s nonfiction, you know. No one could read Ancient Evenings, for God’s sakes, and say that’s nonfiction. They’re not familiar with those works, that’s all. They’ve made up their minds on the basis of the stuff they have read, which tends to be the nonfictional work.”

What if there are not only two nostrils, two eyes, two lobes, and so forth, but two psyches as well, and they are separately equipped? They go through life like Siamese twins inside one person…. They can be just a little different, like identical twins, or they can be vastly different, like good and evil.
—  Kittredge Gardiner, Harlot’s Ghost, By Norman Mailer
Book Review: Harlot's Ghost by Norman Mailer

An enthralling historical novel about a CIA operative and the complex relationship with his mentor. Mailer brilliantly extolls this complex and multi-layered fiction in which real-life historical figures interact with fictional characters, although loosely based on past CIA operatives.

It is a somewhat lengthy book well worth the effort since it has the ability to draw us into the story. In it we discover some of the techniques of spies who ply their trade, of the making of a spy agency, of the ever-lingering possibility of betrayal that looms over agents, of the motivations and shortcoming of individuals who are at the heart of political and historical events.
Stars: 5 out of 5