This week we discuss the legacy of Norman Mailer with J. Michael Lennon, Mailer’s archivist and authorized biographer, and Maureen Corrigan, book critic for NPR’s Fresh Air. This conversation was originally recorded August 27, 2018 and was recorded live at the American Writers Museum.
We hope you enjoy entering the mind of a writer.
“Political power of the most frightening sort was obviously waiting for the first demagogue who would smash the obsession and free the white man of his guilt.” —Norman Mailer, Miami and The Siege of Chicago (1968)
“I loved the fact that it seemed like he would say anything and he could get away with it because he was funny and sassy. And that’s an American voice. That voice that’s funny and irreverent and obscene as well.”
“I remember what it was like for me to go back and reread Miami and the Siege of Chicago and just be bathed in this language. I mean, it is so alive, it’s so crazy…To be with Mailer as he’s sifting through this kaleidoscope of events around him, it’s just so fabulous to be in his company.”
“The events of the 60s are reverberating through the decade that we’re in now. And it might’ve been Mailer’s best decade.”
“[Mailer] realized that democracy wasn’t a given. That it was something that had to be tested and fought for, blood had to be shed occasionally, that it required work, that it could slip away. He always talked about a ‘soft fascism’ coming to the United States…little by little an erosion of the powers of the press, of the powers of the courts and so on. If Mailer were here, that’s exactly what he would say.”