Norman Mailer (1923)
American writer, born in Long Branch, New Jersey. After graduating in Harvard,
he served in the army during World War II and at the age of 25 published The
Naked and the Dead (1948), one of the most significant novels to emerge from
the war. His next 2 novels, Barbary Shore (1951) and The Deer Park
(1955), were generally considered failures, and he turned to journalism. He
returned to the novel with An American Dream (1965), an exploration of
sex, violence, and death in America through the experiences of his
semiautobiographical protagonist, and Why Are We in Vietnam? (1967),
which was nominated for a National Book Award. With The Armies of the
Night (1968) which won the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Award and
brought Mailer both popular and critical acclaim, and Miami and the Siege of
Chicago (1968), which won a National Book Award for nonfiction. In The
Armies of the Night he used the techniques of a novel to explore an October
1967 anti-Vietnam march on the Pentagon, a protest during which he was arrested.
Other books are: Of a Fire on the Moon (1971), a book on the Apollo II
moon landing; The Prisoner of Sex (1971), an essay in response to the
women's liberation movement; Marilyn (1973), a novel biography of Marilyn
Monroe; The Fight (1976), a book-length description of the Muhammad
Ali-George Foreman fight in Zaire, The Executioner's Song (1979), on the
life and execution of Gary Gilmore.
He also has written "interpretive biographies", Oswald's Tale (1995), a
study of the life of President Kennedy's assassin, Lee Harvey Oswald, and
Portrait of Picasso as a Young Man (1995), on the youth of Pablo Picasso.
Several recent novels have been long and intricate: Ancient Evenings
(1983) is set in pharaonic Egypt; Harlot's Ghost (1991) is a complex
cold-war spy novel. A shorter detective novel, Tough Guys Don't Dance
(1984), was made into a film in 1985. Among his other works are The White
Negro (1958), Advertisements for Myself (1959).
In addition to his books, Mailer also has written, produced, directed and acted
in several films. Wild 90 (1967), which Mailer produced and directed was
an adaptation of his book The Deer Park. His second film, Beyond the
Law (1968) received positive reviews but did not draw audiences, and his
third film, Maidstone (1971), based on The Armies of the Night
received mixed reviews. He returned to the cinema to write a screenplay for his
murder mystery novel of the same name, Tough Guys Don't Dance and to
direct it himself. This film was well received at the 1987 Cannes film festival.
Mailer also wrote the script for the film version of The Executioner's Song.
Harlot's Ghost was published in the
fall of 1991. It is a work of epic proportion and ambition about the people and
the plottings of the C.I.A. during the crucial decades of the "American