The Explanation
(for those who require one)

And, of course, that is what all of this is -- all of this: the one song, ever changing, ever reincarnated, that speaks somehow from and to and for that which is ineffable within us and without us, that is both prayer and deliverance, folly and wisdom, that inspires us to dance or smile or simply to go on, senselessly, incomprehensibly, beatifically, in the face of mortality and the truth that our lives are more ill-writ, ill-rhymed and fleeting than any song, except perhaps those songs -- that song, endlesly reincarnated -- born of that truth, be it the moon and June of that truth, or the wordless blue moan, or the rotgut or the elegant poetry of it. That nameless black-hulled ship of Ulysses, that long black train, that Terraplane, that mystery train, that Rocket '88', that Buick 6 -- same journey, same miracle, same end and endlessness."
-- Nick Tosches, Where Dead Voices Gather

Norman Mailer Dead at 84

When he was having a better-than-average day and the gods were on his side, for once, he could summon waves of prose that would, with their astonishing velocity, overwhelm even the most jaded reader. When nothing, not a thing in the world, was smiling upon him, he made of himself a rank public spectacle and (albeit rarely) wrote sentences of such blinding, overreaching awfulness that one could be excused a longing for the simpler enterprise of hackdom. As the oldest-living enfant terrible in human history, he gave American literature and the times in which he lived the best show it ever had or could ever want.

Norman Mailer -- author of The Deer Park and Why Are We in Vietnam?; auteur of Wild 90, Maidstone and Beyond the Law; fetishist of Henry Miller and Marilyn Monroe; amateur boxer, wife-stabber, Mayoral candidate, man of letters, part-time buffoon and full-time genius -- passed away early this morning at the age of 84.

For those who have need of such things, here are three accounts of the life and the death:

The Washington Post

BBC News

The Associated Press


Rita Mae Baker said...

I hope you won't mind, I have referenced your post regarding Norman Mailer at Interviews with Rita Mae Baker

If you have any objections please e-mail me at

I would be interested in interviewing you via e-mail sometime for the site, if you are open to that idea.

Thank you.

Vanwall said...

I doubt such men will pass this way again, which may be all for the best for a lot of folks. You had to pick & choose his work, and like sniffing cantaloupes to see if it's ripe or rotten, had to get one's nose a little close, regardless.

His universe was an ego as big as a sun in his own little system - altho certainly not as bright as he saw in the mirror - with other "lesser" scribblers and hacks orbiting willy-nilly, and some bruised and benighted dames somewhere over there, waiting. He wrote some damn good stuff on occasion, and a lotta dreck, seems to me, and like most of our literary wunderkind, had trouble separating the Norman from reality as time went by. I'd say vaya con dios, but I'm pretty sure vaya con diablo wouldn't be his choice.

Misplaced said...

Very nicely written.

Tom Sutpen said...


Vanwall said...

Hey, Tom - I should also add my kudos, as it was the best thing I read about Mailer all weekend.