So far, for my money ...

... Michiko Kakutani has the best take on Norman Mailer's writing. It's the nonfiction journalism that's best, notably Executioner's Song, Miami and the Siege of Chicago, The Fight and The Armies of the Night. As occasionally demented and self-indulgent as these are, they still often are sharp, smart and courageous in their admissions. Many of the novels, on the other hand, took the demented into the downright embarrassing, notably An American Dream and Ancient Evenings.

There is also Louis Menand's elegant appreciation at the New Yorker.

And then, there's always Roger Kimball who managed, in less than 24 hours, to write more than 5,000 chilly words detailing at length everything he ever hated about Mr. Mailer, his books, his prose, his politics, his friends, his causes, his crimes, his campaigns, his critics.

I think it was Mr. Mailer who once observed that you gotta respect an overpowering hatred like that. The tigers of wrath being wiser than the horses of instruction, and all that. Amid the tirade, one begins to feel a certain affection for Mr. Mailer, for all his ridiculous faults, just because he could infuriate someone like Mr. Kimball this deeply.

November 11, 2007 9:36 AM |



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