, In the name

Never one for turning the other cheek, American novelist NORMAN MAILER has retold the greatest story ever told - only better. And he came down to Earth to tell us about it. Words: Alan Chadwick

MEETING NORMAN MAILER is a bit like meeting the Pope. The Pope of Greenwich Village that is. It’s not so much an interview as an audience, and the correct proprieties must be observed. Norman’s time is precious.

But then, what are journalistic meet and greets but promotion? And promotion is one thing Mailer knows all about. You don’t write a book called Advertisements For Myself without knowing something about the art of selling.

So it is then. that a jet-lagged Mailer climbs aboard the publicity train in a London hotel to plug his latest novel, The Gospel According To The Son. At the age of 74, his hearing is on the wane and his walk is slow. Dressed in a sky-blue V-neck and jeans. he could easily pass for a retired business


'I don't cry in my beer about the critics. Book reviewers live to bite someone. And the bigger your butt to start with, the happier they are.’ Norman Mailer

executive. You certainly wouldn’t take him to be a self-styled literary outlaw, as famous for stabbing his wife and headbutting Gore Vidal as he is for the hurricane of controversy, adulation and bewilderment that has accompanied his career.

While Mailer’s prose can still reek of the pugilistic toughness that marked him out as Hemingway’s heir apparent. his demeanour these days is altogether more mellow. Gout and a touch of arthritis turn out to be the chief causes, much more than any wish to distance himself from his reputation and carve out a niche as the sage old man of American letters. . The fire still burns in the author of classics Norman Mailer: crucified by the American critics

20 THE U81 25 Sep—9 Oct 1997