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.