Young in Springfield, Lincoln enjoyed a deep relationship with Joshua Speed
Bogging down in J. Michael Lennon’s biography of Norman Mailer, A Double Life, just about the point where I’d have expected. The Naked and the Dead is a bestseller and Mailer’s trying to cope with his newly acquired celebrity—mostly by sleeping with as many women as he can find time to—hanging out in Hollywood, looking to sell the screen rights and struggling to come up with an idea for his next novel.
You’ve got to keep it together. There’s no future in going off the rails. “You go in dutifully, slavishly, and you work,” commanded Norman Mailer, his head-buttings long behind him. “This injunction is wholly anti-romantic in spirit.” But his sternness communicates the strain, does it not, the effort required to suppress the other thing: the room-wrecker, the Shelley inside, the wild buddings of Dionysus.
In 1948, a 25-year-old World War II veteran leaped into prominence with a number one best-selling novel about his combat experience in the Pacific, The Naked and the Dead. Over the next 60 years he wrote across a range of genres: biography and memoir, a column in the Village Voice, crime and sports narratives, poetry and short stories, several film scripts, and ten more novels of astounding variety.
He was an innovator, public intellectual, and chronicler of the latter 20th century.
Excerpt from a review of Ancient Evenings in the Springfield State Journal-Register, 4-17-83 In 1972, with twenty books behind him, Norman Mailer began to disengage from contemporary America, and started work on a novel that he hoped would “transcend the domination of actual events. The break was neither swift nor absolute, however. From 1972 to […]
There has been debate on whether Mailer’s greatest achievements are in fiction or nonfiction, but it is clear that he was ambidextrous, so to speak, excelling in both. I lean slightly toward his nonfiction in my picks.
Published in Narrative 7 (Fall 1977), 170-88. “What is life but the angle of vision? A man is measured by the angle at which he looks at objects.” Emerson, “Natural History of Intellect” Norman Mailer’s development as a writer parallels at every point his growing awareness of the difficulty, and doubtful wisdom, of attempting to […]