Monday, November 12, 2007

Reflections on Norman Mailer

The only thing I ever read of Mailer's was The White Negro, an essay extolling the courage of a bunch of thugs who beat up and murdered an elderly white shopkeeper.

It made a deep impression on me, as I can still remember its impact, and the crazy, troubled way it made me feel. Was good bad? Was up down? Could it possibly be that beating up on an elderly, innocent person was an act of merit? Clearly I could not appreciate the subtlety of Mailer's ideas. He must have meant something far, far different from the words on the page. Didn't he?

One of us (me or Norm) was obviously crazy, and since he was rich and famous and I was nobody, I assumed it had to be me. The essay did have the effect of giving me a pass, an excuse not to ever read anything else by him, and I exercised this option to the max.

And I've never been sorry.

1 comment:

dick stanley said...

I only read his famous war novel, and that was plenty. It was awful. I don't know what Mr. Big did in WW2, but it wasn't fighting.