Norman Mailer: Truth in Blurbing

“Working on my own stuff, I haven’t had a moment to look into Passionate Sex, but how can others fail to buy it? If the author delivers one-tenth of what is promised in the title, the book will be the bargain of the year.”

–Norman Mailer

This quotation, which appeared in an ad on Page 5 of the Jan. 16 New York Times Book Review, represents a possibly unprecedented instance in which the writer of a book blurb confesses that he hasn’t read the book he’s plugging. Is Mailer to be congratulated for his honesty, or ridiculed for the ostentation with which he announces to the world that he personally has no need for a sex manual? In the 1970s, this question would have been excellent grist for a gathering-of-the-Upper West Siders debate in Manhattan’s Town Hall.