Saturday, November 10, 2007

Was Norman Mailer Over-Rated?

By Alan Caruba

The author Norman Mailer is dead at 84 after a life being hailed as a great author, six wives, several bad film ventures, and generally a liberal bloviator on any and all subjects.

I always thought him over-rated despite his Pulitzer Prize and other honors. We know by now that the liberals who determine who wins these things have their favorites that they keep celebrating so long as they write and speak the Party Line.

A colleage and top-notch writer, Maurice Zolotow, openly accused Mailer of plagerizing his own writings on Marilyn Monroe for a book Mailer produced and, since Maurice was one of Hollywood's top chroniclers, I have little doubt that he was telling the truth.

Mailer, to me, was the quintessential dilettante, trying his hand at many things and, despite a better than average writing talent, not succeeding much in any of them. Yes, he sold books. That can be said of a lot of writers.

His first book, "The Naked and the Dead", gained him instant fame at age 25 and, after that, he garnered more renown from the journalistic form of writing than fiction. The novels that followed never really achieved the recognition of his first book and several were panned and deserved to be.

Who reads Mailer any more? That question cannot be answered with a quick response such as with the works of Hemingway, Steinbeck or Faulkner, but then one doesn't hear much about James Michener's writings either. Some authors exist for their particular era.

Mailer was a good, not great, writer... but he was a better self-promoter. Like a good actor, he always knew where to find the spotlight.

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