Mailer was a manic pursuer of fame and fortune with a take-it- or-leave-it persona. Much of his style wouldn’t play well today
Random House recently announced an effort to try to revive interest in Norman Mailer, not long ago America’s most famous writer.
Likewise Mailer’s own family, together with various former associates, have been trying to pump up his royalties and reputation with an annual Norman Mailer Prize gala – the next scheduled in a few weeks. It’s a limp chicken affair, often rewarding writers that Mailer, neither generous nor of a mentoring temperament, would probably have disdained.
You might think that the Brooklynization of upper-middle-brow culture would have made a special place for Mailer, that most Brooklyn-based author (his apartment in Brooklyn Heights, decorated like a ship with a view over the East River and Lower Manhattan, has been the subject of lots of squabbling since his death). But Mailer, who died in 2007, even more than his yet-remembered generational mates – Bellow, Updike, Roth – seems like a figure from a bygone era.
Certainly Mailer has always had passionate detractors along with dedicated loyalists. Most of his novels warrant an asterisk – bad, yes, Read More