All stories relating to Norman Mailer
Book links roundup: E.L. James’ $1-million book deal, the greatest losers in American literature, and more
- E.L. James’ Fifty Shades of Grey sells for $1 million to Random House
- Jonathan Franzen, John Updike, and Norman Mailer named greatest losers in American literature
- The Globe and Mail on the gender politics of publishing
- Dave Bidini’s search for personal fulfillment and a copy of Eat, Pray, Love
- The Harry Ransom Center is on a buying binge of private documents from contemporary authors
- Andrew Morton’s Royal Wedding book at printers, 72 hours after the balcony kiss
- OMG, I can has Kafka and kittens
- Take your mind off the federal election results with Toronto’s new cultural action plan
- A tour inside Norman Mailer’s Brooklyn Heights apartment
- U.K. publishers and librarians locked in discussions over e-book lending terms
There’s no formula for choosing the books of the year. Some break ground, some tackle familiar themes with new energy. Some represent the best work from established authors, some introduce us to important new voices. And some are simply in-house favourites we feel deserve a little more attention. Here are the Fiction and Poetry books that made the most impact in 2010.
What you missed over the weekend:
- Yet more op-ed pieces about Amazon setting up shop in Canada. Michael Geist argues for. Morley Walker argues against. (Oh, and some writer from the Calgary Herald rips the Canadian Booksellers Association a new one)
- Still no decision on Amazon from Ottawa
- E-reader that nobody cared about to be delayed
- Doug Wright Awards finalists named
- Spanish author Miguel Delibes dies
- Norman Mailer’s son posts e-book “that explores post-Katrina New
Orleans from the perspective of strippers”
- The evolution of Joan Thomas
- Scottish author A.L. Kennedy doesn’t want to be part of club that would have her as member
- Does iPad text-to-voice function violate an author’s audiobook rights?
- The Millions on how to get started in publishing
- St. Martin’s to publish sordid, tawdry details of Dame Judi Dench‘s life
Sundry links from around the Web:
- BookNet Canada’s Michael Tamblyn offers a fairly enthusiastic review of Indigo’s new “e-books for iPhones” app Shortcovers.
- Harper U.S. acquires Kerouac’s unpublished first novel, about a man at sea.
- The Subversive Copy Editor aims at improving frayed relations between authors and editors.
- Norman Mailer strikes back (at his critics).
Vanity Fair has unearthed a 1991 television special made by American Psycho director Mary Harron and starring VF culture columnist James Wolcott, in which Wolcott gives his take on both Norman Mailer and his then-current book, Harlot’s Ghost.
Here’s Wolcott on the long-buried video:
“Accompanied by guest star Malachy McCourt (as the bartender), I thrash out my Oedipal woes and critical misgivings over Harlot’s Ghost with some of the most poignant facial expressions ever to emerge from the John Candy school of acting. Satirical as the video is, it’s also a tribute to the sway Mailer had over our imaginations, and the electrical crackle of his personality up to the very end.”
Watch it here.
James Wolcott has a post up today about the relative lack of Mailer content in The New Yorker over the past six decades or so – Louis Menand’s pithy obituary notwithstanding.
Wolcott pulls a quote out of Mailer’s book Armies of the Night to help explain the scarcity:
Although [critic Dwight MacDonald] would not admit it, he was in secret carrying on a passionate love affair with The New Yorker – Disraeli on his knees before Victoria. But the Novelist [Mailer] did not share Macdonald’s infatuation at all – The New Yorker had not printed a line in review of The Presidential Papers, An American Dream, or Cannibals and Christians, and that, Mailer had long ago decided, was an indication of some of the worst things to be said about the magazine. He had once had a correspondence with Lillian Ross who asked him why he did not do a piece for The New Yorker. “Because they would not let me use the word ‘shit,’” he had written back. Miss Ross suggested that all liberty was his if only he understood where liberty resided. True liberty, Mailer had responded, consisted of his right to say shit in The New Yorker.
Wolcott notes that, these days, “all manner of shit is said in The New Yorker, and nobody minds, not even the senior nuns.”
(By the way, you can say “shit” in Q&Q.)
The death of Norman Mailer elicited tons of reaction over the weekend. Here are just some of the obituaries, personal reminiscences, and other items – not all of it positive, obviously.
Some book-related links:
- Norma Gabler, the Texas textbook nitpicker who spent most of her life seeking out factual errors and “left-wing bias” in schoolbooks, is dead at 84. (Los Angeles Times)
- Kerouac’s On the Road – uncut and republished. (The Independent)
- Russia goes big on book advertising. (Moscow Times)
- Norman Mailer: Mr. Television. (Slate)
- The book every soldier in Iraq should read. (Harper’s)
The 83-year-old Norman Mailer has a new book coming out next week – his first in over a decade – and The New York Observer’s Philip Weiss has just weighed in with an early review.
Weiss says at the outset of his piece that he sat down to read The Castle in the Forest (Random House) “wondering how many rounds [Mailer] can still go with a pencil,” but then he spends the rest of the review basically apologizing for ever having doubted the man.
This work has vigor, excitement, humor and vastness of spirit. There are a few signs of strain, but they hardly count against the power of the language and the ideas. Here’s Norman Mailer in Act V, and he has all the wit and magic of old Prospero.
If Weiss is right, it’s certainly good news for Mailer’s fans. But he has so much trouble synopsizing the nearly 500-page tome – even though his review runs a lengthy 2,000 words or so – that you may come away worried that Mailer has succumbed, like Pynchon and DeLillo, to the everything-plus-the-kitchen- sink approach to novel writing. As has been established elsewhere, The Castle in the Forest is a fictionalized biography of Adolph Hitler, but Weiss makes it sound as if Mailer is barely interested in Hitler:
There’s little history here at all, and more about czarist Russia in the late 1800s than about Hitler as a fascist leader. [And] any thought you have that the book will take up Jews and the Jewish question – again, no. Mr. Mailer finishes with Hitler in 1905, at age 16 or so, in Linz, Austria, at about the time when he’s figured out how to masturbate.
Weiss basically gives up trying to tell us what The Castle in the Forest actually is, and instead gives over to transcribing a long series of interesting (but rambling) phone discussions with Mailer about history, fathers and sons, incest, the Devil, demonology, his Jewishness, and the kabbalah. Let’s hope the book itself is a little more focused.