Norman Mailer, RIP

The writer Norman Mailer has died.

NEW YORK – Norman Mailer, the macho prince of American letters who for decades reigned as the country’s literary conscience and provocateur with such books as “The Naked and the Dead,” died Saturday, his literary executor said. He was 84.

Mailer died of acute renal failure at Mount Sinai Hospital, said J. Michael Lennon, who is also the author’s official biographer.

I have read excerpts from Armies of the Night but never got around to tackling such bursting tomes as The Naked and the Dead or The Executioner’s Song. I did read Harlot’s Ghost, which I enjoyed though I found the female character of Kittredge to be lacking in depth and credibility as a character.

My favorite story about Norman Mailer is the one where he was angry at Gore Vidal for ripping “Prisoner of Sex” to shreds in a review. So at a party Mailer punches Vidal, knocking him down on the floor. Still on the floor, Vidal said, “Words fail Norman Mailer yet again.”

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