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The Great American Novel

Did Norman Mailer live it instead?

Norman Mailer, Sportswriter

A recent biography of the literary legend’s life largely ignores a fascinating part of Mailer’s life and career: his deep love for sports like baseball, bullfighting, and boxing.

The Two Sides of Mailer

J. Michael Lennon, a mild-mannered retired English professor, will forever be linked to the combative Norman Mailer. His 900-page biography, “Norman Mailer: A Double Life” (Simon & Schuster), was published this past fall to wide acclaim, and Lennon is now in the throes of editing 50,000 of Mailer’s letters for a book to be published in the fall of 2014. It was a letter, after all, that first joined Lennon’s life to Mailer’s.

Star Trib Review

On balance, Lennon does, however, reveal his subject’s double life, his honesty and deceitfulness, and his remarkably self-deluding but self-aware sensibility. If not the last word on Norman Mailer (what could be?), this book is likely to be the standard biography for this generation.

Review of Bio on SFGate

J. Michael Lennon’s “Norman Mailer: A Double Life” is a perceptive biography, one with a keen understanding of his work, his mind and his darkest impulses (notably, the stabbing of his second wife).

Former Sangamon State instructor is famed writer Mailer’s authorized biographer

J. Michael Lennon said he had two reactions when he was tabbed to write the authorized biography of Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist Norman Mailer. . .

Bio Stunning and Super

Norman Mailer is now naked and dead. Should it’s time to catch up the the (crazy) hero’s double life. And so there’s the stunning Norman Mailer: A Double Life, author J. Michael Lennon presents the definitive portrait of one of the most important and controversial figures in American literary and cultural life in the second half of the 20th-century. The authorized biographer knew his subject for decades and had unfettered access to Mailer’s voluminous papers, unpublished letters, family members and acquaintances.

Bio Makes The Telegraph’s 100 Best

The Barnstable Patriot Review

There are roughly 747 pages to Lennon’s biography, and quite a bit of intimacy packed into it. There are times when I felt as though I was peeking through the Mailers’ keyhole, other times their porch window. Either way, J. Michael Lennon has rendered an author who was arguably one of our greatest in such a way that feels as though he’s just stepped through the door.

Biography emerged from decades of conversations

The research and writing “were up to the last minute” –seven years. Four years prior to that reading the letters, a collection of which Lennon hopes to edit and publish next. “There were over 50,000 written to over 4,000 people,” he said.

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