Norman Mailer has died

Obituary here. Kakutani thoughts here.

A choice quote from the obit: "Mr. Mailer belonged to the old literary school that regarded novel writing as a heroic enterprise undertaken by heroic characters with egos to match." I'd like to see a renaissance of the first part of that sentence (novel writing seen as heroic enterprise), but I think the idea of writers as heroic, egostical characters has probably caused more problems than progress by emphasizing this over the enterprise itself. It seems to me that, for instance, certain writers succeeded in spite of the fact that they were drunks and/or assholes, not because of these traits. But it's seductive for a younger writer to think there's some causality there. Now that I think of it, this notion probably led to all of reality television, too. In fact, it explains all of America today. QED.

1 comment:

TLB said...

I wholeheartedly agree. That and the myth of "stick by your artistic guns, even if they make your prose ridiculously unreadable" have done irretrievable damage as part of the mythology of the novelist in our culture. I continue to be surprised at students who take creative writing classes but don't actually want to learn anything about writing that challenges their assumptions about their own abilities.