A Weekend for Writerly News

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



Filed under Are You Interested?

4 responses to “A Weekend for Writerly News

  1. allison

    Ohhh man I love Nick Hornby. If anyone liked the movie High Fidelity, read the book because it’s better. I also recommend A Long Way Down about a group of people who all plan to kill themselves on New Years eve and run into each other unexpectedly on a roof.
    Thanks for the info about the YA, Dr. Stearns. I’m sure I’ll get to it eventually…

  2. sofiapenna

    I think it was so wise of Norman Mailer to declair that the novel is on its way out. For a man who lived through such a long, rich literary life, he showed great ability to think beyond what is comfortable. I’m not sure how many of us will still be able to do this at the age of 80.

    Also, it’s interesting that you bring up the Slam poster contest. As a student of 506 this semester, immediately I think about Daniel Pink’s thoughts on design and creativity. This is one great example of the world’s new focus on creation, art, and presentation.


  3. ll123

    According to Times introduction, Mailer was definitely living a colorful life: having published more than 30 books, including novels, biographies and works of nonfiction; and being a prodigious drinker and drug taker, a womanizer, a devoted family man. 🙂 Isn’t that interesting? Just think about his creative mind, at the age of 84, he was still writing. I enjoy reading this introduction about a wonderful writer. Thanks, Dr. Stearns. Posted by L. L.

  4. canadawr5

    very interesting!

    Ray C.

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