Reasons I haven't read and don't plan on reading Norman Mailer:
1) I don't think authorial lifestyle is more important than writing.
2) If I did think authorial lifestyle was more important than writing, I would ignore Norman Mailer as an ass.
3) Mailer's sbujects seem to be:
b) his ego
c) how other writers aren't that great
d) the type of over-done, boomer-loved recent history that comes with
exclamation marks, like Marilyn Monroe!, Vietnam! the Death Penalty!,
4) People who proclaim themselves the "concious of the nation" are bores.
5) People who hate women, stab women, worship sex, philander and shout, "look at me, I'm a tough guy," are bores.
6) Every part of his author-character seems over done. When Norman Mailer's writing is described, he always, to me, sounds just like someone else. Like everything he has done was done by someone else.
7) His fans describe him in ways that make him sound like a politician, or an east coast Hugh Hefner, or a boxer, or a clebrity, but not like a writer. (cf:
- "He was anticipating attacks like an aging boxer who could sense a punch before it's thrown."
-The mouth always looked to be in mid-twist, ready to snarl a profanity. Other people keep fire extinguishers handy; Mailer, you figured, kept a cold beefsteak within reach: In Case of Pummeling, Break Glass."
- Probably more than anything, Mailer was a libertarian and a foe of any system or mind-set that involved the censorious (feminism) or the overweening and the grandiose (imperialism/communism).
8) I read The White Negro, and, honestly?, it left me cold.
9) Fundamentally, I don't think writing makes you cool, and I distrust writers who seem to write to make themselves cool. It's crap. It's fake. It's bad writing.
10) His fans say that, personality aside, his writing will remain. That's pretty unconvincing.
It's quite possible that I'm completly wrong. Maybe he really is the great American writer. Or maybe he's a tragic, overblown, self-exaggerated and over-compensating figure who's going to fade, fade, fade and is only really worthwhile as a warning. The thing is, I'll probably never know, and I'm okay with that.
Nevertheless, Norman Mailer's dead. He was 84. May he rest in peace.