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Anorak | Norman Mailer And Me:

Norman Mailer And Me:

by | 12th, November 2007

CHRISTOPHER Hitchens on Norman Mailer:

Pint-size Jewish fireplug that he was, Mailer also continually ran a great risk that very few are willing to run. I mean the danger of simply seeming ridiculous. He once nearly lost an eye in a bar fight, because he thought someone had implied that there was something homosexual, not about him, but about his dog! (“Nobody calls my dog a faggot.”) He got whimpering drunk and made a complete idiot of himself on The Dick Cavett Show with Gore Vidal and Janet Flanner, and then reprinted the whole transcripted humiliation as part of an article. On that occasion, and on many, many others, beginning with An American Dream, he manifested an obsession with sodomy that was something a bit more (and perhaps even a bit less) than macho. I once made the mistake of asking him about this on a television show with Germaine Greer: Why was he so fixated on penetratio per anum and its occasions, male-on-male as well as male-on-female? Seizing my copy of his terrible novel Tough Guys Don’t Dance, he scrawled an inscription that vowed revenge, and later gave an interview in which he said that the book had been ill-received in London because of a coterie of queer reviewers organized by me, Martin Amis, and Ian Hamilton. (Amis and I contemplated writing a hurt response, saying that this was very unfair to Hamilton.) But all this bravado and bullshit and delinquency, including the near-fatal stabbing of one of his wives, only seemed to increase the number of people—including the stabbed wife herself—who found fresh ways of forgiving him. Even Vidal, not a professional forgiver, was once gruffly affectionate about him in my hearing. A slightly schmaltzy way of phrasing this would be to say that Norman Mailer was always somehow life-affirming, and that his justly famous cocky grin was something that even his enemies had to envy.

Writers. They change things…

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