The Private Thoughts of a Public Man

The Ambitions and Insecurities of Literary Giant Norman Mailer


Special Friends

Young in Springfield, Lincoln enjoyed a deep relationship with Joshua Speed

Being a writer means being able to do the work on a bad day.
Norman Mailer

Lance Mannion: Mailer in Hollywood

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.


What’s Become of the So-Called Literary Bad Boy?

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.


The Ten Best Norman Mailer Books

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.


Why Mailer Matters

He was an innovator, public intellectual, and chronicler of the latter 20th century.


Dick Cavett, Mike, and Sal Cetrano

Photo by: Frank Nastasi


Ancient Evenings

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 […]


The 10 Best Norman Mailer Books

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.