Norman Mailer: Joyce contemporary or Gonzo Journalist?

I recently watched the documentary New York in the Fifties where I was reintroduced to writers of the day. Mailer was only one highlighted author; and others like Joan Didion, Kerouac, and Baldwin graced their wits of the subculture in the Village that led to the hippy movement we most characterize for starting in San Fran years later. I admire those who try and break our ideas of the norm. I see this commonality in abstract expressionists like Pollock and Rothko or beatniks like Ginsburg and Burroughs. All counteract the repressed feelings that were pushed upon them from the generation before.

So I googled Norman Mailer, frankly to see if he was less misogynistic than he was portrayed to be in the film. I found an article he wrote in 1960 for Esquire magazine covering the Presidential convention.

Superman Comes to the Supermarket:

Wikipedia says Mailer is “an innovator of creative nonfiction”. I continued to read as this particular rant sparked my interest for two reasons; obviously the subject matter is appealing as anything to do with JFK is and the style of writing and tone is comical. His choice of words are perfect for each sentence.

I enjoy reading creative nonfiction accounts of history. But it was Mailer’s style that kept me going. It wasn’t dry, his writing was alive with character and equal cynicism. It was a surprising read. Norman Mailer, I’ll read your Executioner’s Song next…


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