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Norman Mailer (1923–2007)

Author of The Naked and the Dead

148+ Works 22,303 Members 325 Reviews 43 Favorited

About the Author

Norman Kingsley Mailer was born on January 31, 1923 in Long Branch, N. J. and then moved with his family to Brooklyn, N. Y. Mailer later attended Harvard University and graduated with a degree in aeronautical engineering. Mailer served in the Army during World War II, and later wrote, directed, and show more acted in motion pictures. He was also a co-founder of the Village Voice and edited Disssent for nine years. Mailer has written several books including: The Armies of the Night, which won the National Book Award, the Pulitzer Prize, and a Polk Award; and The Executioner's Song, which won the Pulitzer Prize. In 2005, he won the Medal for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters from the National Book Foundation. He published his last novel, The Castle in the Forest, in 2007. He died of acute renal failure on November 10, 2007. (Bowker Author Biography) show less
Image credit: 1967 photo by Bernard Gotfryd

Works by Norman Mailer

The Naked and the Dead (1948) 4,110 copies
The Executioner's Song (1979) 2,874 copies
Ancient Evenings (1983) 1,275 copies
The Armies of the Night (1968) 1,227 copies
The Castle in the Forest (2007) 1,211 copies
Harlot's Ghost (1991) 1,188 copies
An American Dream (1965) — Author — 1,063 copies
Tough Guys Don't Dance (1984) 1,058 copies
The Fight (1975) 746 copies
Marilyn: A Biography (1973) 516 copies
The Deer Park (1955) 484 copies
Of a Fire on the Moon (1970) 385 copies
Advertisements For Myself (1959) 337 copies
Why Are We in Vietnam? (1967) 314 copies
Barbary Shore (1951) 271 copies
The Prisoner of Sex (1971) 236 copies
The Time of Our Time (1998) — Author — 200 copies
Why Are We at War? (2003) 189 copies
Cannibals and Christians (1966) 152 copies
The Presidential Papers (1963) 152 copies
Of Women and Their Elegance (1980) 83 copies
The Faith of Graffiti (1974) 78 copies
Existential Errands (1972) 61 copies
The white negro (1957) 49 copies
RFK Funeral Train (2000) 49 copies
Pieces and Pontifications (1818) 46 copies
Some Honorable Men (1976) 43 copies
Deaths for the ladies (1962) 34 copies
The Deer Park: A Play (1967) 33 copies
The Idol and the Octopus (1968) 22 copies
Maidstone (1967) 20 copies
Pontifications: Interviews (1982) 14 copies
Essential Mailer (1982) 12 copies
Pieces (1982) 10 copies
The Bullfight (1967) 7 copies
V-Best (2005) 5 copies
Tough Guys Don't Dance [1987 film] (1987) — Director — 5 copies
How the wimp won the war (1991) 4 copies
The Executioner's Song [1982 TV movie] (2014) — Author — 3 copies
Strange Love (1963) 3 copies
Shika no sono 3 copies
Norman Mailer (1900) 2 copies
A hóhér dala 2. (1984) 2 copies
A hóhér dala 1. (1984) 2 copies
The last night: A story (1984) 2 copies
Cuentos 1 copy
Ciplak ve Ölü (2015) 1 copy
Kiseki (1998) 1 copy
New York graffiti (1974) 1 copy
Black Messiah (1981) 1 copy
Dávné večery. 1 (1995) 1 copy
Vidal vs. Mailer (2014) 1 copy
Rey del Ring 1 copy
A szőke bombázó (2000) 1 copy
Fuera De La Ley (2014) 1 copy
1989 1 copy
Dávné večery. 2 (1995) 1 copy

Associated Works

Naked Lunch (1962) — Contributor, some editions — 6,987 copies
The Portable Beat Reader (Viking Portable Library) (1992) — Contributor — 1,460 copies
Gonzo: The Life of Hunter S. Thompson (2007) — Contributor — 594 copies
The Outlaw Bible of American Poetry (1999) — Contributor — 591 copies
In the Belly of the Beast: Letters From Prison (1981) — Introduction — 378 copies
The New Journalism (1973) — Contributor — 335 copies
Reporting Vietnam: American Journalism 1959-1969, Volume 1 (1998) — Contributor — 321 copies
The Best American Sports Writing of the Century (1999) — Contributor — 190 copies
Why I Write: Thoughts on the Craft of Fiction (1998) — Contributor — 187 copies
Writers at Work 03 (1967) — Interviewee — 141 copies
On the Firing Line: The Public Life of Our Public Figures (1989) — Contributor — 113 copies
The Best of Abbie Hoffman (1993) — Foreword — 109 copies
Papa: A Personal Memoir (1976) — Preface, some editions — 101 copies
Writers: Photographs by Sally Soames (1900) — Preface — 100 copies
The Cool School: Writing from America's Hip Underground (2013) — Contributor — 79 copies
Great Esquire Fiction (1983) — Contributor — 70 copies
The Beats (1960) — Author, some editions — 62 copies
The Jewish Writer (1998) — Contributor — 52 copies
Sting Like a Bee : The Muhammad Ali Story (1971) — Preface — 48 copies
Unknown California (1985) — Contributor — 41 copies
Ragtime [1981 film] (1981) 38 copies
Partisan Review: The 50th Anniversary Edition (1905) — Contributor — 35 copies
Last Tango in Paris: The Screenplay With Photographs From The Film (1973) — Contributor, some editions; Contributor — 35 copies
The Penguin Book of Twentieth-Century Protest (1998) — Contributor — 31 copies
Great World War II Stories: 50th Anniversary Collection (1989) — Contributor — 29 copies
Great Short Stories of the World (1965) — Contributor — 25 copies
Wonders: Writings and Drawings for the Child in Us All (1980) — Contributor — 18 copies
Inside Deep Throat [2005 Documentary] (2005) — Self — 17 copies
I'm a Little Special (1999) — Contributor — 15 copies
New World Writing: Second Mentor Selection (1952) — Contributor — 12 copies
The Playboy Book of Short Stories (1995) — Contributor — 11 copies
Homicidal Acts (1988) — Contributor — 9 copies
The Paris Review 31 1964 Winter-Spring (1964) — Contributor — 7 copies
Various Temptations (1948) — Contributor — 7 copies
Big Table 3 (1959) — Contributor — 6 copies
Stories of Scarlet Women (1962) — Contributor — 5 copies
Ghosts and Ghastlies (1976) — Contributor — 5 copies
Introduction to Fiction (1974) — Contributor — 1 copy


20th century (376) American (376) American fiction (150) American history (106) American literature (716) anthology (376) beat (382) Beat Generation (204) biography (458) books about books (106) crime (120) drugs (209) essays (343) fiction (2,942) first edition (138) historical fiction (244) history (435) journalism (345) Library of America (133) literature (727) Mailer (168) memoir (103) non-fiction (902) Norman Mailer (163) novel (710) own (105) poetry (361) politics (251) read (218) Roman (126) short stories (103) to-read (1,286) true crime (150) unread (219) USA (256) Vietnam War (116) war (221) writing (218) WSB (125) WWII (323)

Common Knowledge

Canonical name
Mailer, Norman
Legal name
Mailer, Norman Kingsley
Mailer, Nachem Malech (birth)
Date of death
Burial location
Provincetown Cemetery, Provincetown, Massachusetts, USA
Long Branch, New Jersey, USA
Place of death
New York, New York, USA
Cause of death
acute renal failure
Places of residence
Long Branch, New Jersey, USA
New York, New York, USA
Paris, France
Provincetown, Massachusetts, USA
Harvard College (BS|Aeronautical Engineering|1943)
University of Paris
Silverman, Beatrice (spouse, 1944-1952)
Morales, Adele (spouse, 1954-1961)
Campbell, Jeanne (spouse, 1962-1963)
Bentley, Beverly (spouse, 1963-1980)
Stevens, Carol (spouse, 1980-1980)
Mailer, Norris Church (spouse, 1980-2007) (show all 7)
Malaquais, Jean (friend, translator)
The Village Voice (co-founder)
United States Army (WWII)
Awards and honors
National Book Award, Medal of Distinguished Contribution to American Letters (2005)
State Author of New York/Edith Wharton Citation of Merit (1991-93)
American Academy of Arts and Letters Academy Award (1960)
F. Scott Fitzgerald Award for Outstanding Achievement in American Fiction (2000)
Emerson-Thoreau Medal (1989)
American Academy of Arts and Letters (1967) (show all 13)
Pulitzer Prize for Fiction (1969, 1980)
National Book Award (1969)
Edward MacDowell Medal (1973)
George Polk Award (1969)
National Arts Club Gold Medal of Honor in Literature (1976)
Harvard University's Signet Society Medal for Achievement in the Arts (1970, 1994)
Austrian Cross of Honour for Science and Art, 1st class (2002)



Norman Mailer in Legacy Libraries (February 2014)


My next read from books published in 1951 was Barbary Shore by Norman Mailer. It was his second novel and did not sell well after his first success with [The Naked and the Dead]. Barbary Shore was the first book I have read by this author having been wary of his machismo profile and I was surprised by what I found in this highly political novel: most of the action takes place inside of a rooming house in Brooklyn Heights,

Mickey Lovett rents a room; he calculates he has enough money to last for a couple of months and he wants the peace and quiet to write a novel. He is suffering from amnesia after being injured during the war. He soon finds too many distractions to work at his writing; the first is Guinevere his well rounded landlady who teases him with her sexuality, which seems to be echoed by her precocious four year old daughter Momina. Then there is McLeod an intellectual who fascinates Lovett with his books and knowledge and Mickey finds himself wanting to 'sit at his feet' in his room upstairs. Another tenant Hollingsworth seems to want to get Mickey on his side in a dispute with McLeod. Finally there is Lannie a woman hurt by electric shock treatment suffered in a mental institute and now in love with Guinevere. It soon becomes apparent that the rooming house is a hot bed of intrigue. McLeod is a revolutionary, a socialist who may have committed murder, Hollingsworth works for the Bureau and is intent on breaking McCleod who is now a fugitive. Lannie has been a follower of McLeod and Guinevere has a mysterious husband who visits her from time to time.

The novel is written in the first person from the point of view of Mickey who with his amnesia represents a 'tabla rasa' for ideas. McLeod is the intellectual revolutionary, Hollingsworth works for a government intelligence agency and Lannie is a woman damaged by her past. Mickey slowly puts all this together as he finds himself a witness to the drama which unfolds in McLeod's room. Hollingsworth suspect's that McLeod has stolen something from the government and undertakes a series of gruelling interviews. McLeod describes himself as a revolutionary socialist, believing that Capitalism will destroy itself and he wants to be prepared to take advantage, but admits that:

it is the paradox of the revolutionary who seeks to create a world in which he would find it intolerable to live.

Man is only capable of founding societies based on privilege and inequality.

However the book becomes a battle of wills between Hollingsworth and McLeod with Mickey and Lannie witnessing the struggle and trying to sort out their own relationships with Guinevere. There are long speeches by McLeod justifying his position, but also wondering if the struggle has been worth the sacrifices he has made. Where does love come into all this? he asks.

In 1951 when the novel was published, some American intellectuals were reeling under the aggressive accusations from Senator McCarthy of un-American activities. Norman Mailer does not hold back in challenging what he calls state capitalism: McLeod is by no means the bad guy and the outcome seems to hinge on which side Mickey Lovett will fall. Looking back from our subsequent knowledge of the author and his viewpoint it could be argued that the two female characters and the little girl do become, kind of collateral damage with the men battling away in the room upstairs. However I do think it is a brave piece of fiction writing and Mailer creates tension in his description of the relationships, within the household, with everybody suffering during the blistering heat of summer. Politics and sexual politics are king here and the reader will judge for himself whether Mailer presents us with a naive or more nuanced view of the world. Much better than expected and so 3.5 stars.
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1 vote
baswood | 1 other review | Jan 24, 2024 |
A very big best seller in the day. A pretty good report of WWII, Pacific Island fighting . Mailer uses a very small set of characters to explain the effect the war had on him in his combat tour. The language was racy for the time.
DinadansFriend | 45 other reviews | Jan 8, 2024 |
Stephen Rojack is a former congressman, a contemporary of John F. Kennedy, a popular TV talk show host- and he has just strangled his estranged wife to death. To cover his crime, he tosses her out a tenth story window, then meets up with a gangster's moll/lounge singer named Cherry. If ever a character was written to be played by Charlize Theron, this is it. The police suddenly drop their suspicions of murder against Rojack because they have bigger fish to fry- namely some of Cherry's mobster friends. The novel takes a look at a day and a half in the life of Rojack, following his rendezvous with Cherry, Ruta (his wife's maid), and his eventual meeting with his wife's father, culminating with his own high rise theatrics.

This book moves very fast. The reader loves to hate Rojack. The novel is from his point of view, so we see the inner workings of his alcohol-soaked mind. Mailer's descriptions are lucid, dense, and brilliant. You feel like you are in 1963 New York City, running from the police, smelling the smells of the squad room, and making love to exotic women. What does not work here are the kind of mobsters that were threatening in 1963, but come off like characters in a bad mafia comedy today. There is a subplot involving some of the characters' involvement in the CIA that is also dated, and Mailer's attempts at magical fantasies that Rojack takes us on in his mind are over-the-top and dull. Other reviews I have read have mentioned this is a good starter to a Mailerphyte, and I would agree. "An American Dream" is entertaining, but not a perfect tome. Also adapted into a film.
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Charles_T_Tatum_Jr | 7 other reviews | Nov 10, 2023 |
A startling work of creative imagination.

Norman Mailer - love him or hate him - had a mastery of the language that very few could rival. It is apparent in all his works, including "Ancient Evenings", which takes place at a variety of Egyptian locales, from royal dinners to family barge rides, from distant mining camps to tombs. Much of the story is told in flashback, much of it recited by a ponderous old man. The highlights of the book are:
a) Mailer's immense knowledge of the age. I adored Ancient Egypt as a study topic when a student, and still I'm not sure how much of this is verified/historically theorised truth, and how much is Mailer's imagination. Either way, he creates a world in which every cultural nuance and spoken idiosyncracy feels foreign and yet genuine;
b) That sense of magic - speculative fiction, I guess we'd call it now - that allows us never to be sure what is real, without ever succumbing to the dreaded "fantasy"; and
c) yes, it is true: Mailer's ability to tell those lecherous tales while rarely coming across as just a perv.

As others have said, this book will beguile or disgust: sodomy and incest (sometimes both!) are high on the agenda, and Mailer is as unapologetic as his characters.

I would never call this book my favourite, not by a long shot: like many works, I appreciate it as much intellectually as I do viscerally. For instance, Menenhetet speaks using a lot of similes and analogies, often quite ponderously. It makes reading this book a tougher experience than one would like, but this is a genuine part of the character and his culture, not a flaw in Mailer's writing.

In the end, this is a work that won't speak to anyone. It's highly idiosyncratic, explores many abstract or challenging themes, and takes no pains to explain itself until it feels the time is right. However, by the same token, the novel refuses to pander to cliche or the simple answers, and is one of those amazing books where - by the time you're reading the final chapters - you realise how strange and incomprehensible they would be to the uninitiated, yet they make perfect sense to you. "Ancient Evenings" makes you work for your reward, and in this case the reward is a fantastic and unsettling portrayal of life in Egypt under the Pharaohs, and of a world so far removed from our own. The final chapter is startlingly beautiful, and puts my previous favourite literary ending - that of "The Great Gatsby" - to shame. Lovely.
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therebelprince | 18 other reviews | Oct 24, 2023 |


1960s (4)
1940s (1)
1970s (1)


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½ 3.7

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