Archivist, Biographer, Educator

Category: Letters Page 2 of 3

Library Journal Reviews Selected Letters


A Gentleman of Letters

Perhaps more than any other major writer but Eugene O’Neill, Mailer produced some of the best and the worst examples of American art. His letters are frank about his own uncertainly as to where he stood in the literary pantheon. On bad days, even a brilliant novel like An American Dream could seem like dreck to him. His letters are engaging because when it came to his main occupations—writing novels or thinking about the novels he was going to write—he was utterly honest with himself. All pretense falls away when Mailer goes to work on himself. He is a superb self-critic and also a sensitive critic of his predecessors and contemporaries. It is profitable to read what Mailer has to say about Hemingway, Faulkner, and many other writers. And he is generous with writers who seek his help, offering advice when it is asked for and reading the work of others—although he often has to beg off because of his own demanding writing schedule.

The Great American Novel Buried in Norman Mailer’s Letters

Most great writers are also great talkers, but writing begins where talking ends: in silence. Norman Mailer is one of literature’s great talkers, and his voice—his speaking voice—is crucial to his work. As a founding partner of a new upstart Greenwich Village weekly in the mid-nineteen-fifties, he even came up with its title: the Village Voice. Perhaps no writer of his time endured such keen conflict between his personal voice and his literary voice, and that conflict is at the center of “Selected Letters of Norman Mailer,” edited by J. Michael Lennon.

Santa Brings Denise What She Wanted

Man of Letters

Selected Letters receives a mention in the Boston Globe:

Over the course of about 60 years, Norman Mailer, in addition to more than 30 books, wrote some 45,000 letters. About 700 pieces of his correspondence have been published in “Selected Letters of Norman Mailer” (Random House), edited by J. Michael Lennon. Mailer, who died in 2007 at age 84, wrote to Henry Kissinger, the Clintons, Monica Lewinsky, Truman Capote, James Baldwin, Lillian Hellman, and many other public figures.

Washington Times Review of Letters

Mr. Lennon (also Mailer’s official archivist) is back with a volume, nearly as thick and heavy, of Mailer’s correspondence (and a small sampling, Mr. Lennon tells us, from some 45,000 items), reflecting the thoughts and concerns of the nearly seven decades that Mailer played a role in American literary life — at times major, at others peripheral, but always a presence.

Mailer’s Letters Pack a Punch

Norman Mailer was known for his toughness and temper, and his letters have plenty of that, but they also show his kindness and generosity with other writers.

Letters Makes PW Picks

Selected Letters makes the Publisher’s Weekly picks for the week of December 8, 2014.

Letters in Esquire

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Letters: New & Noteworthy

USA TODAY’s Jocelyn McClurg scopes out the hottest books on sale each week.

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