Norman Mailer: speaking ill of the (naked and the) dead

Norman Mailer was something of a hero to me at some point, although looking back it’s hard to imagine why. He seems to embody the “writer as blowhard,” a kind of high-lit Michael Moore with logorrhea. Roger Kimball quotes an old Elizabeth Hardwick parody, which just about says it all about Norman:


This 6th note was ignored by LBJ, but attacked by the Black Negroes and the FBI. One admits that a lot of it is lousy–I was having personal troubles at the time–but I still think it lousy but good. The Bitch Goddess didn’t quite get into bed with me this round, but at least she didn’t get into bed with Bill Styron either, up in his plush Connecticut retreat. All the Bitch did was blow into my ear–one of those mysterious pre-psychotic Jackie Kennedy whispers. My answer to the FBI would run this way: The existential orgasm would make atomic war and even atomic testing impossible …

Real or fake?

It’s rather amazing that many people, including me, were at one point considering Mailer deserving of the Nobel Prize for literature. The sad truth about Norman was that he was a bore. Maybe we were all bores.

On further reflection, he was just nice-jewish-boy trying oh-so-desperately to be cool. Doesn’t work.


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