Tough Guy: The Life of Norman Mailer
Join us online for a discussion of the life and legacy of Norman Mailer with biographer and professor Richard Bradford, author of the new book Tough Guy: The Life of Norman Mailer. Tough Guy is the first biography to examine Mailer’s life as a twisted lens, offering a unique insight into the history of America from the end of World War II to the election of Barack Obama. This program takes place exclusively online via Zoom. Register to receive the livestream link here.
More about Tough Guy:
Twice winner of the Pulitzer Prize, firstly in 1969 for The Armies of the Night and again in 1980 for The Executioner’s Song, Norman Mailer’s life comes as close as is possible to being the Great American Novel: beyond reason, inexplicable, wonderfully grotesque and addictive.
The Naked and the Dead was acclaimed not so much for its intrinsic qualities but rather because it launched a brutally realistic sub-genre of military fiction — Catch 22 and MASH would not exist without it. Richard Bradford combs through Mailer’s personal letters — to lovers and editors — which appear to be a rehearsal for his career as a shifty literary narcissist, and which shape the characters of one of the most widely celebrated World War II novels.
Bradford strikes again with a merciless biography in which diary entries, journal extracts and newspaper columns set the tone of this study of a controversial figure. From friendships with contemporaries such as James Baldwin, failed correspondences with Hemingway and the Kennedys, to terrible — but justified — criticism of his work by William Faulkner and Eleanor Roosevelt, this book gives a unique, snappy and convincing perspective of Mailer’s ferocious personality and writings.
Praise for Tough Guy:
“Bradford offers a solid sense that Mailer could be unpleasant.”
“British academic Bradford seems to thrive…when sniping, deriding perceived flaws of style and soul.”
“Bradford draws from myriad sources to craft an indelible portrait of the artist as a fascinating, never-boring man.”
RICHARD BRADFORD is Research Professor in English at Ulster University and Visiting Professor at the University of Avignon, France. He has published over thirty widely acclaimed books, including biographies of Philip Larkin, Alan Sillitoe, Kingsley Amis, George Orwell and a controversial portraiture of Patricia Highsmith. Bradford has written for The Spectator and The Sunday Times and has appeared on the Channel 4 series In Their Own Words: British Novelists.