James Campbell

Making Ends Meet: An Interview with Norman Mailer

A lot of funny stories about Norman Mailer have reached us from across the Atlantic through the years, each one adding to the increasingly complex sum of his legend: Mailer Stabs Wife, Mailer Runs for Mayor, blacks the eye of Gore Vidal, gets arrested for disorderly conduct, boxed John Updike at two a.m. on a New York street corner, forces his dinner guests into rope-climbing races, gets married, divorced and married again all in one day … The tales are sometimes amusing, often bewildering, occasionally infuriating. Read by Mailer’s own lights, some can be seen as exercises in extremism; at worst, they tend to confirm our worst suspicions, that for all his great gifts and wisdom, he is the victim of childish impulses which drive him to regard every form of human conduct as a contest in which he must triumph or die.

Sign Up to our newsletter

Receive free articles, highlights from the archive, news, details of prizes, and much more.

Follow Literary Review on Twitter

  • Last Tweets

    • The mystery of Jack the Ripper's identity has long been agonised over. But what do we know about his victims?… ,
    • A piece of Literary Review history from way back in 1983: John Haffenden talks to the great Iris Murdoch. ,
    • Britain’s only travelling lit fest, the Garden Museum Literary Festival is heading to Houghton Hall, Norfolk, for a… ,
    • 'The 19th-century German sage is not my idea of a pleasant travel companion' goes hiking with Friedr… ,
    • If you want ideas about what to read next, sign up to our free email newsletter, and get book reviews, archive mate… ,
    • 'The heroic male nude could not, I think, be used today to signify civic pride and glory', as Michelangelo’s 'David… ,
    • 'Munch’s later works show us a man liberated from the torments that gave rise to some of the best-known early works… ,