Saturday, November 10, 2007

The Late Norman Mailer

Norman Mailer is dead, age 84, an old man's death rather than anything more in keeping with his fiction. Hard to imagine the world of American letters without him, and his prose style, which was as suited to journalistic as novelistic aims, will ensure he is remembered - even if he missed out on the Nobel in the end. A few years ago, he was over here for the London Literature festival, and a friend of mine, the writer Mark Powell, was on a panel with Mailer - and, along with the BBC producer, the agents, and the other writer went back to his hotel. The BBC producer has bought him a present of a bottle of bourbon, and he generously opened it to share with the others in the room. The other writers had better things to do than have a drink with Norman Mailer, but my friend stayed the afternoon, draining half the bottle with him. In other words, despite popular success, Mailer was also a writer's writer, or, in a world where even writers need role models, the kind of writer that young men in particular would want to become. Oh, and the Fall named one of their greatest songs, Deer Park, after his novel of the same name. American literature is a little less interesting with his passing. (And for a far more authoritative view of Mailer's actual career and legacythan mine, read the Sharp Side.)


Flat Out said...

good story. sad news. (check typo on last line - what with you bein' in the Guardian and that nearly every week, you can't be too careful...)

Adrian said...

Blogs being the first drift of history these days, they always require a subeditor, thanks!