my dear norman mailer

(10 november 2007)


my dear norman mailer,

you’ve died.

and i don’t quite know what to make of this other than the fact that it makes me kind of sad.

yes, you held some beliefs that were total bunk. you exploited marilyn as a biographical sex-toy. you crusaded against the women’s liberation movement. you participated in a literary smackdown with gore vidal. you had nine chidren and six wives, the second of which you stabbed.

as if this weren’t enough of a biographical legacy, in your neediness and contrivance towards the hemmingway masculine ideal, you cultivated a belligerent literary machismo that was debilitatively seared across everything you ever wrote.

despite the feigned nonchalance, you so obviously wanted to be remembered. you so obviously needed to be a big deal. the footfall of your every stomping sentence gave you up.

you never seemed quite real. you always were a bastard.

but i’m a girl who likes bad boys and if they have a way with the pen, that’s better and better.

60 years ago, you emerged as the enfant terrible of the american literary scene and set out to write The Great American Novel. perusing your obituaries this morning, it seems to be the general consensus that you never did. but does that really matter?

in graduate school, my biography class covered the lost art of obituaries. the first line is crucial. you can fumble your way on the rest, blithely romping through schooling and careers and wives and honorary doctorates, but you can’t fake that first line. that first line is a bitch.

it’s a bitch i think you, norman mailer, would’ve enjoyed slapping around. and i think even you- the combative tease, the unremitting bombast, the cocksure grump with dialectic derring-do- would be satisfied with the title history has bestowed upon you.

the macho prince of american letters.

well played, norman mailer, you bastard you.

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