Archivist, Biographer, Educator

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Mike at Wilkes, June 2018

Tom Wolfe and the mission to bring literature back into journalism

Tom Wolfe, the dashing, white-suited journalist-novelist with a Ph.D. from Yale in American civilization and a vocabulary equal to that of William F. Buckley, satirical skills not dissimilar to those of Kurt Vonnegut, H.L. Mencken and Mark Twain (not to mention Shakespeare’s rival, Ben Jonson, the gimlet-eyed satirist), a Southerner whose tradition-battering stories in the New York Herald Tribune in the early 1960s made him principally responsible for starting the first new direction in American literature in a half-century, the iconoclastic, initially detested-by-the-fourth-estate New Journalism (which really goes back to Daniel Defoe’s “Diary of a Plague Year”), died Monday at 87.

Read more in the Chicago Tribune »

Mike’s Interview with Hippocampus Magazine

Mike discusses the Library of America’s new volumes on Norman Mailer’s works of the sixties.

Interview with WAMC

No writer plunged more wholeheartedly into the chaotic energies of the 1960s than Norman Mailer, as he fearlessly revolutionized literary norms and genres to capture the political, social, and sexual explosions of an unsettled era.

Listen on WAMC.

Norman Mailer “recognized the permanent cleft in the American character”

Published this month by Library of America, Norman Mailer: The Sixties is a double dose of the trenchant writer who—in his fiction, his nonfiction, and in work that famously blurred the distinction between the two—threw himself unreservedly into the most tumultuous era in modern American history.

Read the interview.

WVIA Interview

J. Michael Lennon, Norman Mailer’s archivist, editor, and authorized biographer who teaches creative writing at Wilkes University, talks about the two-volume boxed set, “Norman Mailer: The Sixties,” issued March 27, 2018, by the Library of America.

Why Norman Mailer Still Matters in 2018

“No one in the literary world told us more about what was going on in the 1960s politically, socially, and sexually than Mailer.”

The Naked and the Read

Books arrived daily by mail, FedEx, or by hand on the doorstep – a half-dozen was not unusual. At social functions, airports, readings, while he was walking to dinner along the waterfront of Provincetown, or riding the A Train to Manhattan from Brooklyn, people pressed books into his hands. Not that Norman Mailer was short of books; his library, at four different locations, amounted to more than 7,000 volumes. His last wife, Norris Church, referred to them as Kudzu, the pernicious creeping vine that covers large swathes of the American South. As fast as she gave them away, they reappeared on every flat surface in their two homes. Norman, she said, spent $1,000 a month on books, and received a large number gratis from writers in search of a recommendation.

LOA’s Mailer

Purchase Norman Mailer: The Sixties: A Library of America Boxed Set on Amazon.

Mike on Talk Louisiana

Writer Michael Lennon on the 95th anniversary of the birth of two-time Pulitzer Prize winner Norman Mailer and his Wilkes University colleague Jeff Talarigo on his work, “in the Cemetery of the Orange Trees.”

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