Mailer’s Death: A Good Career Move


For a writer who turned out so many second-rate books, Norman Mailer‘s work has been treated altogether too kindly in his obits. As a teenager, I enjoyed dipping into his essays and occasional journalism, but I could never finish his novels. Even his supposed masterpiece, “The Executioner’s Song,” wore me out. What I most appreciate about Mailer (pictured) is what other people wrote about him. The pithiest remark was, of course, Gore Vidal’s, who said, roughly, that “Norman’s problem was that he wished he were named not Mailer but male-est.” Among the Mailer obits the one I most enjoyed was this one, by Christopher Hitchens, who writes: “Without chutzpah, we would have had no Norman Mailer to appreciate in the first place. He would try everything at least once, from acting to directing to boxing to (worst of all, in my experience) cooking, and if it didn’t work out, hey, it was worth taking the chance.”

One Comment to “Mailer’s Death: A Good Career Move”

  1. I totally agree, Brendan. And I was actually shocked by how affable the obits were, given the number of enemies he made. I was expecting some real o-BITCH-uaries. I could finish only one of his novels, THE AMERICAN DREAM, but I didn’t particularly want to.

Leave a Comment