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The Reviewer’s Song

Andrew O’Hagan: Mailer’s Last Punch, 7 November 2013

Norman MailerA Double Life 
by J. Michael Lennon.
Simon and Schuster, 947 pp., £30, November 2013, 978 1 84737 672 5
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... stuff on the public record. Let’s take the spirit of J. Michael Lennon’s ‘double life’ of Norman Mailer and offer that doubleness back as subjective criticism. Mailer, after all, gave us the non-fiction novel, Lennon gives us the pseudo-objective biography, so why can’t I offer the confessional review? On the ...

Mummies

Ian Hamilton, 16 June 1983

Ancient Evenings 
by Norman Mailer.
Macmillan, 709 pp., £9.95, June 1983, 0 333 34025 6
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... than soft ... He is remarkably fit for a man of 60, which is what he became last Jan 31. Time on Norman Mailer, April 1983 His hair showed the silver of a virile maturity, while the lines on his face had not yet become a myriad of wrinkles, terraces and webs, but exhibited, instead, that look of character supported by triumph which comes to powerful ...

Christian v. Cannibal

Michael Rogin: Norman Mailer and American history, 1 April 1999

The American Century 
by Harold Evans.
Cape, 710 pp., £40, November 1998, 0 224 05217 9
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The Time of Our Time 
by Norman Mailer.
Little, Brown, 1286 pp., £25, September 1998, 0 316 64571 0
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... history researcher’, Kevin Baker, at the centre). Did the devil paint the picture, as Norman Mailer might have it, while God supplied the frame (or, since Mailer’s eschatology is not easy to decipher, was it the other way around)? Mailer, too, is having a love affair ...

Oswaldworld

Andrew O’Hagan, 14 December 1995

Oswald’s Tale: An American Mystery 
by Norman Mailer.
Little, Brown, 791 pp., £25, September 1995, 0 316 87620 8
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... and specials, became the reporters’ reporter, the producers’ producer, and he later brought in Norman Mailer to write the book. He showed himself to be the king deal-maker and media broker, the chief documenter, of grand-scale American tragedy. Wherever there has been sensational news in America over the last thirty years, there you will invariably ...

Grandfather Emerson

Harold Bloom, 7 April 1994

Poetry and Pragmatism 
by Richard Poirier.
Faber, 228 pp., £20, November 1992, 0 571 16617 2
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... and A World Elsewhere (1966), through a middle phase in The Performing Self (1971) and Norman Mailer (1972), on to the major study of Robert Frost: The Work of Knowing (1977), and culminating in The Renewal of Literature: Emersonian Reflections (1987) and Poetry and Pragmatism (1992), now belatedly under review. More perhaps than anyone ...

Big Pod

Richard Poirier: How Podhoretz Dumped His Friends, 2 September 1999

Ex-Friends 
by Norman Podhoretz.
Free Press, 256 pp., $25, February 1999, 0 684 85594 1
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... This book is ostensibly about six literary figures with whom Norman Podhoretz, for 35 years the editor-in-chief of Commentary, was closely involved from the early Fifties until the early Seventies: Allen Ginsberg, Lionel and Diana Trilling, Hannah Arendt, Lillian Hellman and Norman Mailer ...

Uppish

W.B. Carnochan, 23 February 1995

Satire and Sentiment, 1660-1830 
by Claude Rawson.
Cambridge, 309 pp., £40, March 1994, 0 521 38395 1
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... delusion of enhanced objectivity and its opportunities for a smirking inwardly directed irony, is Norman Mailer.’ Item: examining Oldham’s effort to replicate ‘the postures of the Rochesterian rakes’, Rawson detects in Oldham an occasional ‘note of hoity-toity tu quoque’. Item: and, examining Boswell’s habit of draining every rhetorical ...

Enemies For Ever

James Wolcott: ‘Making It’, 18 May 2017

Making It 
by Norman Podhoretz.
NYRB, 368 pp., £13.98, May 2017, 978 1 68137 080 4
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... one to miss a party, popped into the reception being thrown by Commentary’s editor-in-chief Norman Podhoretz and his wife, the writer and editor Midge Decter, one of the power couples of the Upper West Side intelligentsia – the junior version of Lionel and Diana Trilling. Kazin, a Commentary contributor going back to 1945, found himself in a bobbing ...

Bugger me blue

Ian Hamilton, 22 October 1992

The Selected Letters of Philip Larkin 
edited by Anthony Thwaite.
Faber, 759 pp., £20, October 1992, 0 571 15197 3
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... There is a story that when William F. Buckley Jr sent a copy of his essays to Norman Mailer, he pencilled a welcoming ‘Hi, Norman!’ in the Index, next to Mailer’s name. A similar tactic might happily have been ventured by the publishers of Philip Larkin’s Letters: the book’s back pages are going to be well-thumbed ...

Short Cuts

Thomas Jones: Telly, 9 August 2001

... reviewing Thackara’s first novel, said he couldn’t ‘write “Bum” on a wall’. At least Norman Mailer did head-butt Gore Vidal. Anyway, two hours with the Yellow Dragons is all it takes, and that’s offered at the knock-down price of £10 (two-thirds off): ‘It’s not worth putting yourself … at risk for that small amount of money.’ We ...

I adore your moustache

James Wolcott: Styron’s Letters, 24 January 2013

Selected Letters of William Styron 
edited by Rose Styron and R. Blakeslee Gilpin.
Random House, 643 pp., £24.99, December 2012, 978 1 4000 6806 7
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... by heap big novelists now facilely grouped as a cetacean school of Great White Males (Styron, Norman Mailer, James Jones, John Updike, Saul Bellow, Gore Vidal, J.D. Salinger, Joseph Heller, the recently retired Philip Roth), whose ghostly father and bearded Neptune disturbing the liquor cabinet deep into the night was Ernest Hemingway. Even those ...

Mailer’s Psychopath

Christopher Ricks, 6 March 1980

The Executioner’s Song 
by Norman Mailer.
Hutchinson, 1056 pp., £8.85, November 1979, 0 09 139540 2
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... my hair. You need it worse than I do.’ Thy need, or necessity or whatever, is greater than mine. Norman Mailer’s book about Gilmore is a work of genius in its range, depth and restraint. It has speed, which Gilmore had, and patience, which he had not. It has lucidity, even when dealing with legal entanglements. It has forbearance, even when witnessing ...

Short Cuts

Andrew O’Hagan: HBO, 10 June 2010

... encapsulation of jungle heat and the ultimate ‘fuck you’ war conditions on Guadalcanal. Even Norman Mailer, much given to such usage, wasn’t allowed to say it in The Naked and the Dead, where the marines, somewhat famously, were forced by his publishers Rinehart & Co to say ‘fug you’. The bigger problems in The Pacific began in the first ...

At the Hayward

Freddie Mason: Matthew​ Barney, 17 June 2021

... was not only full of hand jobs, but chose as its ‘host body’ (in Barney vernacular) a novel by Norman Mailer. ‘Crude thoughts and fierce forces are my state,’ as Mailer put it. Redoubt (until 25 July) is as vast in scale as its predecessors, and just as extravagant, but it’s a more contemplative and more ...

Short Cuts

Christian Lorentzen: The Weiner Trilogy, 29 August 2013

... In 1969 Norman Mailer ran for mayor of New York. He called for the city’s secession from the State of New York to become the 51st state; a ban on private cars in Manhattan; free public bicycles; devolution of powers over policing, education, housing and welfare to neighbourhood authorities; a casino on Coney Island or Roosevelt Island to generate tax revenue; and something called ‘Sweet Sundays’, one day each month on which all mechanical transportation, including lifts, would be banned ...

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