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Advertisements for Myself Paperback – October 15, 1992

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Editorial Reviews


Anyone with a serious interest in American and in twentieth-century literature will applaud the reprinting of Norman Mailer's Advertisements for Myself. No single work of his, before or since, is as important to an understanding of his literary career or of his emergence as an authentic public personality, and none is as fully representative of the range and variety of his concerns. (Richard Poirier Rutgers University)

This is a wonderful exercise in American autobiography, and in that self-mocking, self-glorifying, cynical, naive, outrageous, intelligent, uniquely his own and uniquely American autobiographical voice of which Mailer is the modern master. (Wendy Lesser Threepenny Review)

Combining fictional fragments, autobiography, journalism, polemic...with a running commentary tracing the ups and downs of a novel-in-progress (Dos Passos for our times?) and asserting the author's place in the batting order of GREAT AMERICAN WRITERS, the book contains some of the best stuff Mailer ever produced. (Karal Ann Marling, University of Minnesota)

At the very time that he is perhaps too insistently trying to recall the audience and himself to the importance of the task of the novelist, he is creating another public persona, part clown, part vulgarian, fool and genius, whose arena is not the imagined story, but the imagined life, led first in the pages of newspapers or on television screens, and then (giving us the story behind the spectacle) turned into essays (or are they stories?) whose main character is this endlessly revised 'Norman Mailer'--a kind of expository confessional poetry. (Jay Cantor, author of Krazy Kat)

About the Author

Norman Mailer was an American novelist and essayist.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 532 pages
  • Publisher: Harvard University Press; Reprint edition (September 15, 1992)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0674005902
  • ISBN-13: 978-0674005907
  • Product Dimensions: 8.2 x 5.5 x 1.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 15.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #598,009 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

21 of 23 people found the following review helpful By Augustus Caesar, Ph.D. on March 17, 2002
Format: Paperback
Originally appearing in 1959, "Advertisements for Myself" remains one of the most unusual books ever published by a novelist. Containing stories, essays, reviews, interviews, novel excerpts and poems, all with detailed, italicized annotations courtesy of the author, this book displays a massive, raging talent assessing itself and the world around it. It is sometimes poignant, sometimes maddening, but never less than compelling. I love this book.
Today, Mailer's reputation is rather up in the air. To me, his career is an example of an artist constantly pushing himself, writing with breathtaking ambition even if it exceeded his skill. There has never been another writer like Norman Mailer, and it is touching to read here of his desire to write a novel on the level of Dostoyevsky, Mann and Tolstoy, and to read his pithy, sometimes hilarious assessments of his contemporaries. His commentary on the ups and downs of his career and his disgust and sadness about the decline of American literature are illuminating, but his self-aggrandizement and egocentricity are often difficult to stomach. However, one has to stand in awe at the monument of his talent and his passion.
Reading this book today, one has to ask, "Did he fulfill his expectations?" I think so. "Harlot's Ghost," "Ancient Evenings," "The Executioner's Song" and numerous other works, both fiction and nonfiction, will endure, in my opinion. But I, for one, would like to know whatever happened to the self-promoted masterpiece of a novel he excerpts here. The small sections make for very stimulating reading.
All in all, "Advertisements for Myself" is a required text for everyone who loves great literature or aspires to write it for themselves.
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18 of 21 people found the following review helpful By Brad Green on July 28, 1998
Format: Paperback
Writing in the New York Times Book Review, James Shapiro, professor of English and comparative literature at Columbia University, says, "The passage of time has dimmed the reputation of 'The Naked and the Dead,' but time has also cleared the way to a finer appreciation of what to my mind is one of the most daring works of the postwar years, 'Advertisements for Myself' (1959), required reading for any aspiring novelist." He goes on to say, parenthetically, "The sad fact that it is currently in print only because Harvard University Press picked up the lapsed rights says a lot about the state of contemporary trade publishing."
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful By AJ on April 20, 2004
Format: Paperback
This was one of the strangest and most engaging fictional works I have ever read. An autobiographical narrative consisting of novel excerpts, social commentary, reviews and short stories. Brutally honest and at times hilarious, I find myself regularly rereading many parts of the book and I'm always stunned by ,above all else, Mailer's humor and the vivid and unforgettable stories and characterers that he creates.
One reviewer remarked that Mailer's reputation in somewhat up in the air. Certainly Over the years Mailer has suffered much harsh criticism, from charges that he is misogynist to claims that he never fulfilled his own potential.
Nonetheless, Ancient Evenings and this book are his best works and I'm sure they will survive the test of time.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Steiner VINE VOICE on March 1, 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Mailer's memoir is sui generis- it is an unbelievably arrogant exercise in self-creation. Although Mailer complicates the relation of the work to the creator through an eclectic compilation of self-portraits, self-criticisms, and self-praise, this is still a deeply troublesome book. Mailer's self-aggrandizements probably did more harm than good, though it was clearly inherent in the psychology of his creativity. What emerges here is an interesting portrait of the self-creation of a writer-and writers who are interested in problems of method and strategy should read it, because Mailer makes you believe you can produce magic through developing the proper disposition. An esoteric work, with a wide variety of writing.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Tom Field on May 13, 2015
Format: Paperback
If there's one human characteristic I've never been fond of it is the super egotistical one. The chest thumping, endzone dancing just kind of ruins it for me, regardless of the accomplishment. In fact, I'm one of the few souls in the universe who is not a fan of Muhammad Ali, because I associate him with the first of the sport celebrity braggadocios who crossed the line and started the ball rolling on the "look at me, I'm the man" grandstanding. (He certainly wasn't the first, but he was... the greatest.) Isn't the whole point of boxing to knock the other guy down and win the bout? Isn't the objective of football to get the ball across the white line? Sure, a quick fist pump. A clap. An exhaled, YES! I know what it's like to score big in the moment. (I once caught a dropped peanut butter bread before it hit the kitchen floor—with my foot!) But a whole center stage performance? Not what I came to watch.

Such is the case of Norman Mailer, particularly in this odd little find, a random collection of musings appropriately entitled Advertisements for Myself (G.P. Putnam's Sons; 1959). And yet, like Ali's boxing, the man can write. I had to read it, just like I have to watch Ali.

I'll say it again: the man can write. If you don't think he's perfect though, that's fine. He knows he is. Read his critiques of Kerouac, Capote, Salinger, Vidal, Ellison, Baldwin. Hemmingway, for crying out loud. And to prove how random and diverse this strange formatted book is, there is an intimate passage described in perhaps the most brilliant fashion I've ever encountered. I don't know whether to take a shower or build a monument. I do know when I finish this review, I might just jump up on my desk and scream, "I did it! I finished a book review! Suckas'!"

— Tom Field
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