'I was irritable suddenly, a sign of fatigue, the only sign of fatigue I could feel: my adrenalin had lit a new fire for the new drink. Sometime in the next hour of the next day would come a moment when I would lie down, when I would sleep - when I would try to - and then the memories of this night gone through would rise like the mutilated corpses of a battlefield, stare back at the battered face of Deborah which rose from each corpse.'
War hero, ex-Congressman, a professor of "popular but somewhat notorious reputation", television personality and husband of the rich and beautiful Deborah ("a girl who would have been bored by a diamond as big as the Ritz"), Stephen Rojack lived the American Dream. But his enviable life concealed a strange tension, the constant "itch to jump", and when one day he finally cracks and strangles his luscious wife, he unleashes a personality of undreamt-of ferocity.
A wanted murder, Rojack is suddenly catapulted into an alien world of gangsters, crumbling tenements and downtown bars. Here, he meets Cherry, a small-time singer who ekes out her living in sleazy nightclubs, waiting for a break. She's the woman Rojack falls for, dangerously, desperately, tragically . . .
A powerful exploration of one man's quest for depravity, 'An American Dream' shocked the USA on first publication in 1965 with its graphic depictions of sex and violence. One of the key works of twentieth-century American literature, the novel's white-hot prose makes it, for many, Norman's finest achievement.