The Mailer grave on Memorial Day, by Stephen Borkowski. He writes: Memento Mori A long standing tradition in Provincetown is to place a flag on the graves of Veterans for Memorial Day.The large marker commemorating the fallen during the Civil War features the most prominent display with the square plot circled with flags […]
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.
Not only is Norman Mailer’s Oswald’s Tale the first mentioned, but Mike is quoted: “Mailer disappointed numerous conspiracy theorists by coming to the conclusion that, as Mailer’s biographer J. Michael Lennon put it, Mailer chose ‘no conspiracy, and a complex Oswald; a man dealt a bad hand, in no way heroic, but bold, idealistic in a twisted way, and sympathetic.’”
Norman Mailer was 75 in May of 1998 and had just published a 1300-page retrospective anthology of his work, The Time of Our Time. The defining event of the collection is the Cold War, and Mailer could have read from any number of excerpts, fictional and nonfictional, that unfold under its huge shadow, but because the Monica Lewinsky scandal was then being hotly debated, and the impeachment of President Clinton looming, Mailer read first from two recently published pieces about Clinton.
A video of Norman Mailer, Mike Lennon, Gore Vidal, and Norris Church Mailer in Don Juan in Hell, in October 2002.
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.