Remembering Norman Mailer

Slate’s take on the pugnacious Pulitzer winner.

Norman Mailer died of kidney failure Saturday at age 84. Slate frequently covered the life and work of the two-time Pulitzer winner.

Ron Rosenbaum imagined how Mailer might envision Hitler’s sexuality and “its relationship to his future as a mass murderer.” A.N. Wilson reviewed Mailer’s fictional autobiography of Jesus, The Gospel According to the Son. Timothy Noah wondered if Mailer should be praised or ridiculed for blurbing a book he had never read, and later looked at Mailer’s position in the ranking of public intellectuals.

The audacious Mailer, best known for his work on the page, was no stranger to the screen, either: Dana Stevens discussed Mailer’s guest appearance on the WB drama Gilmore Girls, and Troy Patterson dissectedThe Mistress and the Muse: The Films of Norman Mailer, a recent video retrospective. Patterson also examined Mailer’s infamous turn on The Dick Cavett Show. After head-butting Gore Vidal in the green room, Mailer went on stage drunk and proceeded to shout at the audience. A dynamic, inimitable force, he never failed to turn “a swank salon into a churning saloon.”

Today in Slate, Christopher Hitchens remembers the pugnacious writer “who continually ran the risk that very few are willing to run,” the risk of “simply seeming ridiculous,” and Jim Lewis argues that Norman Mailer was a “butch” writer.