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Norman Mailer at 80

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John Leonard on Norman Mailer at 80.

Norman Mailer at age eighty, with an anthology of scars, tickles, slaps, and winks for would-be writers and weary readers—not Aquarius but Gerontion, an old man in a drafty house under a windy knob…

Oddly enough, “windy knob” is the impression I got from the one attempt I was ever game enough to make on uncle Norman, namely a collection of assorted fact and fiction called The Essential Mailer. I got to about the middle of the third story before realising this was, in fact, some of the worst shit I’d ever read in my entire life. I cast the book aside with great anger and have not been able to convince myself to give it another go.

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About James Russell

  • Oops, he did it again. Jewish-American novelist Norman Mailer, a
    grumpy old fart at 82, takes a swipe at Japanese-American literary
    critic Michiko Kakutani in a magazine interview recently. [PHOTOS OF
    BOTH HERE: http://www.nydailynews.com/front/story/323790p-276748c.html%5D
    Kakutani, 50 and the daughter of a retired Yale maths professor who
    came up with the “fixed point theorem,” is a Yale graduate and has
    been a book reviewer for the New York Times for over 25 years, even
    winning a Pulitzer Prize for criticism in 1998. In the interview,
    Mailer, whose books have often been dismissed by Kakutani, uses
    several terribly racist and politically vulgar (PV) terms, calling the Times
    reporter a “one-woman kamikaze” [divine wind suicide bomber] and an “Asiatic, a feminist,” who is
    a “token” minority hire at the august national newspaper. So just who is
    Michiko Kakutani? Click here [http://kakutani101.blogspot.com] and read
    an informal, gossipy blogsite about her.

    Note: I was shocked, shocked to read about Norman Mailer’s feud with Michiko
    Kakutani. Whatever reasons Mailer might have to feel abused by her
    critical powers at the Times (and he does seem to have some good
    reasons), Mailer should not have singled out ethnic background, of all
    things, as part of his criticism. Kakutani is not “Asiatic.” She, a
    Japanese-American, is just as “American” as he, a Jewish-American, is.
    Shame on you, Norman, for having a go at the race card. You lose

  • Robert collins

    Dose Mr Mailer have a mailing address or a post office i could send him a message.

    robert Collins
    usaf ret.