If Mailer Had Entered the Contest

by Norman Mailer

One of the new patients began groaning, and lapsed at last into a bubbly cough. That guy sounds bad, Minetta thought. Death. It seemed at the moment almost tangible. He became afraid to breathe, as if the air were polluted. In the darkness things seemed to be moving about him. What a night, he said to himself. His heart ws beating quickly. Oh, Jeeze, lemme just get out of here.

His stomach was tense and nervous; he retched emptily once or twice. I ain’t gonna get any sleep, that’s a cinch. Jealousy began to torment him. Minetta went through a long fantasy in which Rosie made love to another man; it began with her going alone to a dance at Roseland; and it ended inevitably, sicklily, in his mind; he felt a chill sweat forming on his shoulders and the backs of his thighs. He began to worry about his family. They ain’t gonna hear from me for a couple of months. How the hell will I write them a letter? They’ll think I’m dead. He thought of his mother’s anxiety. Jeeze, the way she’d fuss over me when I got a cold. Italian mothers and Jewish mothers, they’re always that way. He tried to repress the concern his mother was causing him, and began to think of Rosie again. If she don’t hear from me, she’ll be fooling around with someone else. He became bitter. Aaah, fug her, I’ve had dames who give me a better time than her.

Hailed as one of the finest novels to come out of the Second World War, The Naked and the Dead received unprecedented critical acclaim upon its publication and has since become part of the American canon. Written in gritty, journalistic detail, the story follows an army platoon of foot soldiers who are fighting for the possession of the Japanese-held island of Anopopei. This fiftieth anniversary edition features a new introduction created especially for the occasion by Norman Mailer.

Click on the cover to visit the book's Amazon page.

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