|Pop Culture Gadabout|
Sunday, November 11, 2007 |
( 11/11/2007 09:21:00 AM ) Bill S.
"HE'S UNDER HER BED, AND HE'S WAITING FOR HER TO BE DEAD": Because of my age, I had the good fortune to discover Norman Mailer before he completely turned into a caricature of his macho-ass self. Naked and the Dead, Why Are We in Viet Nam?, Armies of the Night - each one of these full works sang to me directly as an undergrad reader in the early seventies. Even his first collection, Advertisements for Myself, while opening the way for a voice which grew steadily more narcissistic, contained its share of great moments. His essay, "The White Negro," for all the quaintness of its title, remains a landmark consideration of hipster culture.
It all went to hell, of course. For me, the deal-breaker was Marilyn, a pricey coffee table trifle that promised so much more than it delivered, in the end doing justice neither to its subject nor its take-the-money-and-run author. As for his public appearances and proclamations, many of which were designed to be as combatively chest-thumping and "provocative" as possible, well, let's just say they got old and leave it at that. But that early writing . . . that was some pretty damn fine stuff.