As you know, the man the NYTimes calls a “towering writer” with an ego to match, Norman Mailer, died on Saturday. He was 84. I was fortunate to hear him speak, with one of his sons, John Buffalo Mailer, at the Civic Center in Syracuse last spring. He was as irreverent, but now frail and crabbed, as ever.
The TIMES reminds us of his prodigious writerly ambition. Enrolled at Harvard as a 16 year old Freshman, he spent that summer reading Farrell, Dos Passos and Steinbeck and set himself a quota of writing 3,000 words a day so the legend goes. Over 6 decades he published some of the most provocative fiction and non-fiction in America.
In 2005 he is quoted in the TIMES as saying: “I think the novel is on the way out. “I also believe, because it’s natural to take one’s own occupation more seriously than others, that the world may be the less for that.” A popularizer of what is now called in English programs “creative non-fiction,” his 1968 National Book Award and Pulitzer Prize winning “nonfiction novel,” Armies of the Night, an account of the 1967 war protest march on the Pentagon, is still, for me, his masterpiece.
Interesting too is yet another well known author’s publishing a YA title. Author of the wonderful High Fidelity and About a Boy, British novelist, Nick Hornby‘s new novel, SLAM, boasts a 16 year old skateboarding protagonist with a pregnant girlfriend and a soundtrack by Green Day. Reviewed in the 11/11 Book Review, the author comments:
“‘Slam’ slides by on its author’s enormous charm and on its exploration of some hard-won truths, including this encompassing definition of what adult love really is: a project ‘full of worry and work and forgiving people and putting up with things and stuff like that.'”
Looks like one this fan of High Fidelity, will be checking out. And take a look at some of the winning posters created in a contest sponsored by Penguin, publishers of SLAM, that asked 8 well known designers and young people to create posters of the childhood heroes and heroines they felt deserved a place on their bedroom walls. Finalists are on display at London’s Design Museum. KES