Bad books

The Washington Times Weekly - - Culture, Etc. -

“No con­tem­po­rary lit­er­ary em­i­nence wrote as many bad books as Norman Mailer. [. . .] In ‘Mar­i­lyn: A Bi­og­ra­phy,’ he wrote that the FBI and CIA killed Mar­i­lyn Mon­roe be­cause she had an af­fair with Robert F. Kennedy. The novel ‘Why Are We in Viet­nam’ is a shaggy-dog story about a hunt­ing trip writ­ten in a ya­hoo­ing hip­ster-yokel twang that sug­gests Proust guest-host­ing ‘Hee-Haw.’ [. . .]

“Was any Se­ri­ous Writer ever so com­i­cal? For ‘The Gospel Ac­cord­ing to the Son,’ Mr. Mailer placed him­self in the mind of Je­sus Christ, which he must have viewed as a de­mo­tion. [. . .]

“Vain­glo­ri­ous, fatu­ous, frac­tious and breath­tak­ingly pre­ten­tious, a rake, a mys­tic and a fool, Mr. Mailer wanted to be Hem­ing­way plus Dos­to­evsky times Tol­stoy. In­stead he found his fame steadily eclipsed by his in­famy. [. . .] Pre­dictably, in 2001 Mr. Mailer said Amer­ica prob­a­bly de­served the World Trade Cen­ter at­tacks and called the rub­ble of Ground Zero ‘more beau­ti­ful than the build­ings’ it re­placed.”

— Kyle Smith, writ­ing on “A Boy’s Life,” Nov. 16 at Op­nionJour­nal.com

His rep­u­ta­tion far ex­ceeded his abil­ity. Norman Mailer

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