One tough bastard

>> Saturday, November 10, 2007

Norman Mailer is dead. (Perhaps they should double check that; it's possible he's merely taking a light nap.) I can only assume Death snuck upon him from behind, possibly hiding behind furniture so as not to be seen and have his ass kicked.

Seriously, though--I respected Mailer. Not sure I could put my finger on why--I think the only novel-length piece of his I've read was The Executioner's Song. I've read a number of shorter pieces and interviews in places like Playboy (in fact, there's an interview with Mailer in the current December issue that I haven't gotten around to reading yet). And while I had to admire the pugnacity of Mailer's style, I can't necessarily say that I thought the work was good. I'd usually end up disagreeing with him, or deciding his arguments were horribly facile, or finding some other deep flaw in his perceptions. Take, for instance, Executioner's Song, wherein (as far as I recall, it's been years since I read it) a shallow, sad, manipulative man who murdered two people is turned into some kind of nihilistic hero who shows some kind of existential bravery for trying to goad his girlfriend into suicide and getting the state of Utah to shoot him. Or at least that's what Mailer tries to do--the discerning reader wonders what the hell is wrong with Norman Mailer?

But the man could write. And he was tough as hell. And I respected his work even when I didn't like it. Maybe it's time I got around to giving The Naked And The Dead a shot.


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