Literary Bull Blundered and Thrived

Time and Salon critics recall brilliant, failed, iconic Mailer
By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff
Posted Nov 10, 2007 7:33 PM CST

(Newser) – Egotist, chauvinist, brawler, Mailer battled "a culture subsiding into room temperature," Time says. His work vented "his own inner conditions" as he lurched from fame at age 25 to so-so books to his "brilliant" Armies of the Night in 1968. He made big gaffes—blaming patients for their cancer, directing bad films, helping parole a murderer—but "something important was lost" when he died today. “Norman come back," says Time. "Nothing is forgiven.”

His infamy almost topped his prestige, says Salon, but one infused the other when he excelled. “If no other postwar American writer has produced as dazzling and spectacular a series of failures as Norman Mailer, it is because none has dared so much.” Only when he risked "making a fool of himself"—as in the "Pharaonic sodomy" of Ancient Evenings—did brawler and writer meet in an "authentic reflection," Salon writes.