Thursday, February 03, 2005

NORMAN MAILER--Taken Out Behind the Woodshed

When I read Norman Mailer's The Spooky Art awhile back, I had to edit out anything that wasn't practical writing advice because, frankly, Mailer came across as something of a Neanderthal. I did get a lot out of the book, so long as Mailer wasn't talking about gender or women writers, etc. There is interesting information in the book about Mailer's early brush with fame and how it transformed him, for example.

But when I ran across this post by Kameron Hurley, who basically takes Mailer out behind the woodshed and beats the crap out of him, I realized just how odd the book is in many ways, and how much stuff I had to skip or edit out of my brain while reading it. Okay, so Hurley's take-no-prisoners approach may do Mailer a slight injustice here or there (at least Mailer's not trying to be politically correct, so I guess that's honesty for you)--I'd have to go back and read the book to be sure--but overall, it's a necessary correction on the book. Almost like Achebe's Things Fall Apart is a needed correction to Heart of Darkness...only, with a two-by-four...



At 4:26 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well, Hurley's right. I thought it was commonly accepted that Mailer is a pathological asshole.

However, I think Hurley would need to rebut him in a fundamentally more significant venue to consider this anything more than somebody flicking peanuts at a braindead rhino. That's like hurling eggs at the presidential limo and thinking you've shown him a thing or two.



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