Confessions of a Left-Conservative: Norman Mailer in the Library of America

NORMAN MAILER WOULD HAVE been ill suited for the contemporary cultural landscape. Married six times, he discarded five wives and stabbed one (an incident that led to a 17-day confinement in the psych ward at Bellevue, a conviction for third-degree assault, and five years’ probation). Overconfident, often boorish, fueled by booze and driven by a towering ego, he made a drunken ass of himself on The Dick Cavett Show in 1971 and got the stuffing knocked out of him in a debate with a panel of prominent feminists — a raucous, ragged, must-see affair captured on film in the D. A. Pennebaker/Chris Hegedus documentary Town Bloody Hall.

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