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  • Norman Mailer-RIP

    http://tinyurl.com/2owmds

    Harlot's Ghost was my favourite. Unfortunately, he didn't live up to the promise he made at the end of the book.

  • #2
    A GREAT writer. A demon-plagued man.

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    • #3
      Originally posted by tafnut
      A GREAT writer.
      I tried 'The Naked and the Dead' a few years ago - almost unreadable - didn't finish . . .

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      • #4
        Over the years

        I've read lots of Mailer over the years, and found him extremely uneven in quality. At his worst, self-indulgent and almost unreadable, but at his best, capable of insights and expressiveness few could match. Although he prided himself on being a novelist, some of his best work was in non-fiction, in particular The Armies of the Night (which I used to assign to classes for a look inside the Vietnam-era anti-war movement) and The Executioner's Song, on the death of Gary Gilmore in Utah, at one time the last American who had been executed for many years. Many of his essays were also provocative.

        Other stuff was stultifying, and he could apparently be a real a**hole. So (as usual) YMMV.

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        • #5
          Also semi-famous for six wives and ten children (I think), although he was not as famous as one of those wives, who qualifies as a genuine ICON.

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          • #6
            Re: Over the years

            Originally posted by dr ngo
            I've read lots of Mailer over the years, and found him extremely uneven in quality. At his worst, self-indulgent and almost unreadable, but at his best, capable of insights and expressiveness few could match. Although he prided himself on being a novelist, some of his best work was in non-fiction, in particular The Armies of the Night (which I used to assign to classes for a look inside the Vietnam-era anti-war movement) and The Executioner's Song, on the death of Gary Gilmore in Utah, at one time the last American who had been executed for many years. Many of his essays were also provocative.

            Other stuff was stultifying, and he could apparently be a real a**hole. So (as usual) YMMV.

            As another post mentions, Mailer had a number of wives to pay alimony to and children to support (which he was very good at, BTW; he was a "there" father). So a lot of what he wrote was done on the quick for financial reasons. E.R. Burroughs (Tarzan; not the Beat writer) was the same: some great, lots average or below to keep the head above the water.

            P.S. = Something fun was seeing him (and George Plimpton) on the documentary film, "When We Were Kings," about the Ali-Forman fight in Zaire. One of the best-ever of these type of films, IMHO.

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            • #7
              Re: Norman Mailer-RIP

              Originally posted by MJD
              http://tinyurl.com/2owmds

              Harlot's Ghost was my favourite. Unfortunately, he didn't live up to the promise he made at the end of the book.
              That's my favorite too. To be continued, he wrote. But that book was about 1200 pages so was he serious?
              Surprised to see he thought so highly of Tough Guys don't Dance. I liked it but that book was not in the same class.
              I read most of his stuff but I gave up on Ancient Evenings.

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              • #8
                Harlot's Ghost is sitting on a prominent shelf in my bookcase, unread. I've no idea when I'm ever going to find the time to read it, but maybe I should just plunge in and read a bit before I go to bed each night (instead of doing Sudoku, which is finally getting boring).

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                • #9
                  His fictionalized non-fiction about the politics of 1967 and 1968, in The Armies of the Night and the Siege of Chicago are the best socio-political commentary of the era.

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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by bad hammy
                    Originally posted by tafnut
                    A GREAT writer.
                    I tried 'The Naked and the Dead' a few years ago - almost unreadable - didn't finish . . .
                    Is that a political thriller? :twisted:

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                    • #11
                      I've never had the slightest inclination to read a word of his, for whatever reason.

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                      • #12
                        Originally posted by tandfman
                        Harlot's Ghost is sitting on a prominent shelf in my bookcase, unread. I've no idea when I'm ever going to find the time to read it, but maybe I should just plunge in and read a bit before I go to bed each night (instead of doing Sudoku, which is finally getting boring).

                        Give it a miss.


                        Harlot’s Ghost, his 1991 novel about the CIA, was rubbished in The Sunday Times as “night-marishly bloated and entirely insubstantial . . . [it] seems the appalling manifestation of a defunct talent”.

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                        • #13
                          So I guess MJD doesn't review books for The Sunday Times.

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                          • #14
                            “night-marishly bloated and entirely insubstantial . . . [it] seems the appalling manifestation of a defunct talent”.
                            That's kind of what I thought about 'The Naked and the Dead' and that was his first big success . . . .

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                            • #15
                              Originally posted by tandfman
                              So I guess MJD doesn't review books for The Sunday Times.
                              The Sunday Times? Well, Salman Rushdie in The Independent on Sunday thought it great and here is Anthony Burgess in Washington Post Bookworld:
                              "We are not in the fairyland of James Bond.. but a real tough world ennobled by Mailer's literary skill.. He was the right man to exalt the history of the CIA into something better than history"

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