Norman Mailer, 1923-2007 November 13, 2007Posted by Jeff in Books I like, In memoriam.
Of all the people I’ve ever met personally in my life, I don’t think I have ever been so much in awe of anyone as I was of Norman Mailer. I actually remember relatively little of the experience — I was in my early teens, a hanger-on at an adult party to which my parents had been invited, and I suspect no one besides them had any idea I had actually read several of his novels or knew as much about him as I did.
As I try to write about him forty years later I still find myself overpowered by that same admiration bordering on fear, despite the evidence of his all-too-human shortcomings — his neo-Nietzschean arrogance in the Jack Abbott business, for example. I think the dread and ambivalence that marks my own problems with writer’s block stems from my image of Mailer and people like him as the Ultimate Writer, somehow an unattainable goal.
So forgive my cop-out if I defer to Charles McGrath’s excellent New York Times obituary.