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Norman Mailer

 I wasn't going to post anything about Norman Mailer, who died November 10. I haven't read enough of his work to form a strong opinion of him as a writer, although I did read Tough Guys Don't Dance years ago and saw the film adaptation he directed. I wasn't  a big fan at the time, but I couldn't resist a book with such an audacious title. I was just looking at some reviews of the film on imdb, and someone described the book as a "hoot". It's been a while since I read it, but that pretty well jibes with my memory of the book. I somehow suspect that this is an accolade Mailer would not have sought, and probably would have preferred that it be dismissed as degenerate garbage or something.

I enjoyed the film adaptation  for a couple of reasons. One, like Brian DePalma's adaptation of Bonfire Of The Vanities, it received such horrible reviews that it had nowhere to go but up when I saw it. The other reason was it had Lawrence Tierney.It's hard to go wrong with Lawrence Tierney.  He even had the movies title as one of his lines. How perfect.

Of course Mailer was a dreadful human being. That's part of why I wasn't going to post anything (if you can't say anything nice and all  that.)
He deserves lasting opprobrium for stabbing his second wife and his promotion of murderer Jack Abbott. OK, I said something that wasn't nice. At least I didn't stab anybody.

The main reason I am posting about Mailer is that I found a couple of irresistible tidbits about him on the web. One was an excerpt from his novel  Ancient Evenings that appeared in a rather critical article by Roger Kimball. It's one of the best examples of unintentionally funny writing I have ever seen:

Even in the first years I knew Him, I do not believe He had many thoughts which were not of battle, prayer, Nefertiti, or His other true taste—the buttocks of brave men. 

After the Battle of Kadesh, however, He was like an oasis that finds new water beneath its palms and divides to a hundred trees where before there were three. Our good Pharaoh came back from Kadesh with more hunger for the sweet meat of women than any man I knew in all of my four lives. He must have gained the seed of the Hittites He killed, for his loins were like the rising of the Nile, and He could not look at a pretty woman without having her. But then, He could like ugly women as well.


The other find was the video at the top of the page. It shows Mailer and a much younger Rip Torn fighting. This occurred during the filming of Maidstone, an early directorial effort of Mailer. The general consensus is that was a movie fight that turned real. Torn is the one wearing a shirt.
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