Norman Mailer: A Double Life

Norman Mailer: A Double Life

by J. Michael Lennon


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The “glorious…sweeping, full-scale biography” of Norman Mailer, the famous novelist, journalist, and public figure: “There’s not a paragraph in this enormous book that doesn’t contain a nugget of something you…wish you had known” (The New York Times).

Norman Mailer was one of the giants of American letters, and one of the most celebrated public figures of his time. He was a novelist, journalist, biographer, and filmmaker; a provocateur and passionate observer of his times; and a husband, father, and serial philanderer.

Perhaps nothing characterized Mailer more than his ambition. He wanted not merely to be the greatest writer of his generation, but a writer great enough to be compared to Dostoevsky and Tolstoy. As Michael Lennon describes, although he considered himself first and foremost a novelist, his greatest literary contribution may have been in journalism, where he used his novelistic gifts to explore the American psyche. He would return to certain subjects obsessively: John F. Kennedy, Marilyn Monroe, sex, technology, and the intricate relationship of fame and identity. Lennon captures Mailer in all his sharp complexities and shows us how he self-consciously invented and re-invented himself throughout his lifetime.

Michael Lennon knew Mailer for thirty-five years, and in this definitive biography, he had the cooperation of Mailer’s late widow, Norris Church, his ex-wives, and all of his children, as well as his sister, Barbara. He also had access to Mailer’s vast, unpublished correspondence and papers, and he interviewed dozens of people who knew Mailer. In Norman Mailer: A Double Life he “brings Mailer thoroughly alive in this great wallop of a book…and he captures the entirety of a man who embodied his era like no other” (The Washington Post).

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781439150214
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Publication date: 10/28/2014
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 960
Product dimensions: 9.00(w) x 5.80(h) x 1.90(d)

About the Author

J. Michael Lennon is Emeritus Vice President for Academic Affairs and Emeritus Professor of English at Wilkes University in Pennsylvania. In addition to being chair of the editorial board of The Mailer Review, he has written or edited several books about and with Mailer.

Table of Contents

Prologue: The Riptides of Fame: June 1948 1

1 Long Branch and Brooklyn 7

2 Harvard 25

3 The Army 56

4 Paris and Hollywood: Prominent and Empty 98

5 The Deer Park 144

6 General Marijuana and the Navigator 178

7 A Felonious Assault and An American Dream 261

8 Third Person Personal: Armies and After 352

9 Politician to Prisoner 410

10 The Turn to Biography 458

11 Death Wishes: Gilmore and Abbott 503

12 Pharaohs and Tough Guys 567

13 An Unfinished Cathedral: Harlot's Ghost 613

14 A Merry Life and a Married One 652

15 Old Freighter, Uncertain Sea 708

Appreciations 765

Books Norman Mailer 771

Notes 773

Select Bibliography 907

Photo Credits 915

Index 917

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