Norman Mailer is dead at 84. For someone who wrote one good novel in his life, he sure made the most out of it. You can credit that with his long history of Left Wing political screeds.
He ran with the Manhattan elites and towed the anti-war, America-as-Imperialist line. That kept him within the Liberal Establishment and they do take care of their own. I certainly won't miss him.
And let's not forget his biggest snafu: petitioning to get Jack Abbott out of prison. In 1980, Mailer spearheaded convicted killer Jack Abbott's successful bid for parole. He helped Abbott publish a collection of letters to Mailer about his experiences in prison. Abbott committed a murder within weeks of his release, and consequently, Mailer was subject to criticism for his role; in a 1992 interview, in the Buffalo News, he conceded that his involvement was "another episode in my life in which I can find nothing to cheer about or nothing to take pride in."
Here are some of Mailer's quotations:
America is a hurricane, and the only people who do not hear the sound are those fortunate if incredibly stupid and smug White Protestants who live in the center, in the serene eye of the big wind.
If a person is not talented enough to be a novelist, not smart enough to be a lawyer, and his hands are too shaky to perform operations, he becomes a journalist.
In America few people will trust you unless you are irreverent.
We are going to occupy Iraq and occupy it for a long time. Then it all does begin to make its own kind of sense. Because that means we are inaugurating the commencement of the American World Empire.
His personal life was an absolute wreck: 6 marriages (he stabbed his 2nd wife during a drunken brawl, almost killing her), an alcohol abuser, pot smoker and counter-culture icon - there seems to be very little in his personal life that one would emulate. His personal life seems to have been the engine that drove the Liberal Establishment to buoy his mediocre writing.
If you want to read an excellent writer of Mailer's generation, read Tom Wolfe. He's a tremendous person of high character and the clarity founded in a stable life shines through in his novels.