The Independent Review

What’s perhaps most striking about this biography is just how well Lennon draws together the complex tangle of contradictions that Mailer embodied and gives them a logical sheen. He knew his subject well: Lennon first met Mailer in 1972 and remained his close friend, seeing him regularly up until his death. On his website, Lennon says that Mailer felt comfortable in the company of Irish-Americans. “I’ve always loved the Irish and felt very close to them,” Mailer explained at one point. “The Irish have this great bravura, a style, an elegance.”

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Biography paints intimate portrait of revered author Norman Mailer

The Jewish Advocate reviews the biography. (Subscription required.) Here are a couple of excerpts: “J. Michael Lennon’s biography “Norman Mailer: A Double Life” (Simon and Schuster), released in mid-October, makes Mailer’s voice come alive. It’s almost as if Mailer himself is sitting at the kitchen table having a conversation with you over a glass of scotch. [. . .] Lennon delivers without producing any judgment, letting the facts unfold – sometimes humorously, sometimes tragically. [. . .] Lennon gives us a human look at a flawed man who redefined American literature and invented a new form of journalism. “Norman Mailer: A Double Life” is the Mailer bible for all interested in reading about this extraordinary man and his times.”

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The Guardian Review

Lover, fighter, saint and sinner – a fascinating biography skilfully traces the contradictions that defined Norman Mailer.

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Financial Times Reviews the Bio

The subtitle “A Double Life” serves as Lennon’s governing premise for exploring how Mailer’s personal life mattered to his writing life and vice versa, but he does far more than merely affirm this abundantly obvious, abundantly volatile relationship. He makes strong cases throughout the biography for the inherent strengths of Mailer’s writing, particularly his achievements in reconceptualising the possibilities of journalism.

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Mailer v. Mailer

The extent to which Mailer’s oeuvre will resonate with a new audience may depend on whether a line can be drawn between his dual role as renowned writer and notorious public persona. The division between the two is often undetectable. At times, this is by Mailer’s design, and at times it’s due to his volatile presence at the forefront of the American cultural revolution.

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Biographies of the Famous Don’t Skimp on the Details

J. Michael Lennon . . . challenges Mailer obsessives to wade through 960 pages of “Norman Mailer: A Double Life,” as if it were not enough to have finished all 1,136 pages of “The Executioner’s Song,” Mailer’s Manhattan-phone-book-size Pulitzer winner, from 1979.

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The Outrageous Life of Norman Mailer

Heroically brave and mad, prodigious in his industry and appetites, Norman Mailer was an altogether excessive figure. Since his death in 2007 there have been several biographies, but this is the big one — big enough to accommodate a triple or quadruple life, let alone a double. It is also the official one, written at Mailer’s request by J. Michael Lennon, his friend, collaborator and literary executor, who is respectful and affectionate but not hagiographic.

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Bio Reviewed by the Jewish Book Council

The book is fascinating throughout. All readers will benefit from Lennon’s treatment of Mailer’s writing process, his compulsive philandering, his often crass self-promotion, his unexpected discipline, his capacity for violence, his attraction to and sympathy for criminals, his relationships with his many children and his peers, and his risk-taking in all areas of life and art.

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Bio Makes Washington Post 50 Notables of 2013

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Financial Times Reviews the Bio

Instead of merely continuing Lucid’s work, Lennon began anew and very much made it his own. At times, he’s too willing to give his pages over to Mailer admirers (Mailer included) to embroider testimonials to his greatness. But in the main Lennon has done a very fine job of chronicling most every possible dimension of a sprawling, brawling, daredevil-cum-car wreck of a singularly great American writer’s life – and I can say that without fear of a 150,000-word letter to the editor disputing everything I’ve just written, save that Norman Mailer was great.

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