Norman Mailer, Dead at 84

Norman Mailer, himself a more memorable character than any of his fictional creations, has died in New York City at the age of 84.


Mailer popular first novel, The Naked and the Dead, was based on his experiences as a soldier on the Pacific front in World War II. A wild future lay ahead for the professional contrarian, who would go on to co-found the Village Voice, run for Mayor of New York City, stab his wife at a party, advocate for the parole of serial murderers with writing talent, and abandon the airy spheres of pure fiction to explore the lives of real life psychopaths like Gary Gilmore and Adolph Hitler in artful prose.

Here is Norman Mailer in a filmed fist-fight (a posture that suited him well) in 1970.

UPDATE: some nice words for Norman from Garth Risk Hallberg and Mark Sarvas.

4 Responses

  1. r.i.p.He was one of the first
    r.i.p.

    He was one of the first writers on the list of ‘must-reads’ when I was in High School. (‘Must-reads’ as in cool people had to know him along with anyone else Simon and Garfunkel referred to (A Simple Desultory Philipic)).

    I never digged him but he was a steadfast figure in the world of writers.

    Thanks, Levi, for posting this. I hadn’t heard.

  2. Classic Life CoverWhat a
    Classic Life Cover

    What a cover! Woodstock, man on the moon, and Norman Mailer. All that for 40 cents, too.

  3. I agree. Life Magazine – how
    I agree. Life Magazine – how I lived for the day that mag hit the doorstop chez moi!

  4. I really will miss Norman
    I really will miss Norman Mailer. Mailer was a champion of many of the good political ideals that I hold dear. However, the only book by Norman Mailer that I read cover to cover was THE ARMIES OF THE NIGHT (1968). But, moreover, I have read excerpts of THE NAKED AND THE DEAD, & THE EXECUTIONER’S SONG and many articles and shorter pieces. Mailer’s association with a guy named Abbott, who was a convicted murderer, once disappointed me… Be that as it may, Mailer generally was a good judge of character and an excellent and wise author. Some of his subject matter, in later years, was a bit divergent from his reading fans

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