An appreciation of Norman Mailer.
Power, politics and sex. War and violence. What more could he write about, you might well ask. Now, just turned 84, he has published "The Castle in the Forest," which attempts to engage and scrutinize the nature of evil personified in the life of the young Adolf Hitler. He -- Hitler as a youth -- ostensibly is the subject of the novel.
In the 1940s, when Burt Lancaster and Harold Hecht formed their production company, Hecht-Lancaster, they optioned debut novels by two young Jewish writers: "The Naked and the Dead," by Norman Mailer and "Burial of the Fruit," by David Dortort. Dortort and Mailer were hired to adapt their books into screenplays.
"The fallacy in Hecht-Lancaster's logic was that neither Norman nor I knew anything about writing a screenplay," Dortort said. "The verdict came in: these were two of the worst screenplays ever written," he added, laughing in the comfort of his spacious Bel Air den. Dortort's screenplay mastery came later when the writer parlayed his love for American history into the phenomenon of a show he created in 1959 called "Bonanza."