Norman Mailer  

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"Norman Mailer, Truman Capote, William Styron — perhaps half-a-dozen others approaching or just past thirty — have numerous admirers, but it is clear that their impact on young intellectuals has not been remotely comparable to that made on a previous generation by Fitzgerald." -- "Born 1930: The Unlost Generation" by Caroline Bird, Harper's Bazaar, Feb. 1957

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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.
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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.

Norman Kingsley Mailer (January 31, 1923 – November 10, 2007) was an American writer and liberal political activist. His novel The Naked and the Dead was published in 1948 and brought him early and wide renown. His 1968 nonfiction novel Armies of the Night won the Pulitzer Prize for non-fiction as well as the National Book Award. His best-known work is widely considered to be The Executioner's Song, the 1979 winner of the Pulitzer Prize for fiction. In over six decades of work, Mailer had eleven best-selling books in each of the seven decades after World War II—more than any other post-war American writer.

Along with Truman Capote, Joan Didion, Hunter S. Thompson, and Tom Wolfe, Mailer is considered an innovator of creative nonfiction, a genre sometimes called New Journalism, which uses the style and devices of literary fiction in fact-based journalism. Mailer was also known for his essays, the most famous and reprinted of which is "The White Negro". He was a cultural commentator and critic, expressing his views through his novels, journalism, essays, and frequent media appearances. In 1955, Mailer and three others founded The Village Voice, an arts- and politics-oriented weekly newspaper distributed in Greenwich Village. In 1960, he was convicted of assault and served a three-year probation after he stabbed his wife, Adele Morales, with a penknife, nearly killing her. In 1969, he ran an unsuccessful campaign to become the mayor of New York.

While principally known as a novelist and journalist, Mailer was not afraid to bend genres and venture outside his comfort zone; he lived a life that seemed to embody an idea that echoes throughout his work: "There was that law of life, so cruel and so just, that one must grow or else pay more for remaining the same."

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