Norman Mailer : culture is worth a little risk



Norman Mailer, een van mijn favoriete schrijvers, overleed afgelopen weekend. Mailer was een man met ongewone ideeen.

Enkele verhalen rondom de man:

In de NY Times van 14 november 2007  lees ik:

Norman Mailer had a straightforward recipe for cooking a steak, the novelist Geoff Nicholson once told me.

Here’s how it worked: Mailer would throw the steak in a pan with some butter, and turn the heat up to high. When the smoke detector in the house went off, it was time to flip the thing over.

I have tried this. It scares the hell out of pets and children, but it works quite well.

I thought of Mailer’s way with a steak a year or so ago when, having lugged the suitcase-sized 50th anniversary edition of The Naked and the Dead (a novel I hadn’t then read) along on a warm-climate vacation, I came upon this bit of dialogue between two men on a military chow line:

Wilson: Ah swear, don’t you ration destroyers know another way to
fug up this stew?

Cook: When it’s smokin’, it’s cookin’; when it’s burnin’, it’s
done. That’s our motto.’

Mailer had eerder gepleit voor vrijlating van moordenaar Abbot. Deze kwam vrij, mede op voorspraak van hem en vermoordde vrijwel onmiddellijk een ober. Mailer op een persconferentie:  ‘I’m willing to gamble with a portion of society to save this man’s talent. I am saying that culture is worth a little risk.’


“Have you read The Naked And The Dead?” wrote George Orwell to David Astor in 1949, a few months before hisdeath. “It’s awfully good, the best war book of the last war yet.”

The Times noemt hem:

Pugnacious novelist whose turbulent private life sometimes overshadowed his substantial literary achievements

Dat is mooi gezegd.Pugnacious, het zou een mooi woord zijn voor omstreden + agressief samen, maar het zal wel net iets anders betekenen..


  1. 1. [a] ready and able to resort to force or violence; “pugnacious spirits…lamented that there was so little prospect of an exhilarating disturbance”- Herman Melville; “they were rough and determined fighting men”. More…
    in Nederlands:kemphaan, vechtersbaas, vechtjas, bot, cru, grof, onbehouwen, onbewerkt, rauw, ruig, snauwerig, bars, honds, nors, nurks, onaardig, onvriendelijk, stuurs, zuur, bobbelig, bultig, oneffen, rul, ruw, schraal

    2. [a] tough and callous by virtue of experience. More…

    3. [a] tough and callous by virtue of experience. More…


  2. Een interessant en hilarisch commentaar op de dood van Mailer lees ik op de site van The Guardian.

    berzerkeley schrijft op November 10 22:23
    vanuit Haifa/israel:

    ” Mailer definitely was not a new age man, agreed. Most of his novels were so fine, we should not need for him to fulfill social protocols as an ideal talk show guest or idealised man of letters. As a contrarian and provocateur, he was at least entertaining. In 1971-2 or so I attended a lecture of his held at the UC campus at Berkeley California. (It was at the height of the early women’s lib movement). What a scene. Norman got up, surveyed the crowd—half of us uni women ready to heckle this chauvinist pig who abused his wife. “Awww,’ he says, surveying the room. “I see lots of college girls. Are you all feminists now ? If you are, go ahead and hiss.” The auditorium was sibilant with all our female hissing.
    Mailer paused, just a beat. Grinned that grin. “Obedient little bitches,” he muttered into the mike. We erupted with hoots and cat calls. And then we listened.

    Later, cops wrestled a protester dressed in a fuzzy pink penis costumes to the ground and dragged him offstage. He’d gone up by Mailer’s podium to mock and amuse.
    Norman Mailer-your words will still be there on the bookshelves, but we’ve lost a Titan of prose. Rest in Peace.
    (Angels are genderless. Dunno about demons.)
    [Offensive? Unsuitable? Report this comment.]”

    ;- 😉

    Geweldig. Had daarbij willen zijn Helaas zat ik nog niets eens in de bloemkool

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