Norman Mailer, RIP
Sad day. ... Even his spectacular failures enhanced his reputation -- the dents and nicks made him more real. They certainly never humbled him. ... My favorite books of his were Armies of the Night
, Miami and the Siege of Chicago
, Executioner's Song
and Of a Fire on the Moon
. All forms of journalism. Not novels. He'd hate this comparison, but he was more Truman Capote than Ernest Hemingway. ... Obits here
-- 'You are supposed to die, Mr. Kingsley.'
... Manufactured drama turned into strange experimental pseudo-seriousness. There's an honesty to its absurdity. It's vintage Mailer. ...Update - 11.11.07
-- Setting aside the obvious things that made Mailer Mailer (his great successes and failures, his enormous ego, his macho self-dramatizations, his often crazy political views, etc.), I think what I liked most about him were the gems of honesty he'd drop in interviews. Here's a good 'appraisal'
piece in which he talks about how ideas that he lived by were largely formed in his youth -- and how his intellectual life later became "less of an exploration and more of an occupation of territories I reconnoitered years ago":
“What happens is you become the hat on your own head,” Mr. Mailer said. “You’re not having the pleasure of enjoying your own mind the way you used to when you were young, but you have the product of your mind to work with. You know, I ran into Henry Kissinger years ago, and I asked him if he enjoyed the intellectual stimulation of the work, and he said in effect: ‘I am working with the ideas that I formed at Harvard years ago. I haven’t had a real idea since I’ve been on this; I just work with the old ideas.’ I certainly know what he means now — I think there are just so many ideas you can have in your life, and once you have them, you have to develop them.”Update II
- Remembering his Provincetown days.