XFX: Norman Mailer

How many of you remember when Norman Mailer and Jimmy Breslin ran for Mayor of New York City:  a team approach. You know, that was an interesting time what with those two egomaniacs and the constant feuds with William F. Buckley and Gore Vidal.

But let’s remember that Norman Mailer was firstly an author and as a personality could give Truman Capote a run for his Christmas cake. In fact, Mailer and Capote were in the vanguard of that literary form we now call the Non-Fiction Novel:  in Cold Blood, The Executioner’s Song, Oswald’s Tale.

Sadly Norman Mailer died recently and I miss his blustering and braggadocio, but he did leave us a number of excellent and very interesting works (some a little too long). The Experimental Fiction group will be reading Mailer’s last novel, The Castle in the Forest. This novel is an account of the development of a young Adolf Hitler and allows the author to delve deeply into the idea of good and evil. You’ve got to admit that writing even a fictionalized account of the early life of Adolf Hitler is a gutsy move but Norman has always been out-front with the machismo, whether real or affected.

Other books by Norman Mailer start with what is routinely considered the best World War II novel to come out of America, The Naked and the Dead. 2008 was the fiftieth anniversary of this novel and it deserves a rereading (or a first read … and shame on you!). One thing I remember, though, is that in 1948 Mailer wasn’t free to use the basic vocabulary of every GI and had to resort to those really nasty epithets like Fug You!  Can you believe that only about fifty years ago, author’s were not allowed to publish if their works contained naughty words or overt sexual schemes. Compare this to what we read today. Mailer’s acceptable (but obvious) vocabulary aimed straight at the Smother’s Brothers two decades later.

Here is a partial list of the works of Norman Mailer (taken from listings at Wikipedia):

Novels
The Naked and the Dead. 1948.
Barbary Shore. 1951.
The Deer Park. 1955.
An American Dream. 1965.
Why Are We in Vietnam? 1967.
Of Women and Their Elegance. 1980
Ancient Evenings. 1983.
Tough Guys Don’t Dance. 1984.
Harlot’s Ghost. 1991.
The Gospel According to the Son. 1997.
The Castle in the Forest. 2007.

Non-fiction
The Armies of the Night. 1968.
Miami and the Siege of Chicago: An Informal History of the Republican and Democratic Conventions of 1968.
The Prisoner of Sex. 1971.
St. George and The Godfather. 1972.
The Faith of Graffiti. 1974.
The Fight. 1975.
The Executioner’s Song. 1979.
Of a Small and Modest Malignancy, Wicked and Bristling with Dots. 1980.
Why Are We At War? 2003
The Spooky Art: Some Thoughts on Writing. 2003.
The Big Empty: Dialogues on Politics, Sex, God, Boxing, Morality, Myth, Poker and Bad Conscience in America. 2006
On God: An Uncommon Conversation. 2007.

Essay collections
Advertisements for Myself. 1959.
The Presidential Papers. 1963.
Cannibals and Christians. 1966.
Pieces and Pontifications. 1982.

Biographies
Marilyn: A Biography  1973.
Portrait of Picasso as a Young Man: An Interpretive Biography. 1995.
Oswald’s Tale: An American Mystery.1996

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