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Mailer: His Life and Times Paperback – Bargain Price, November 18, 2008

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 768 pages
  • Publisher: Washington Square Press; Reprint edition (November 18, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1416562869
  • ASIN: B005Q62DUS
  • Product Dimensions: 9.1 x 6.2 x 1.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 3 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,636,273 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Based on interviews with more than 200 people, this gigantic book is not so much biography as a skillful compilation of multiple versions of events in the life of Norman Mailer. Not surprisingly, we are reminded that Mailer is often competitive, belligerent and drunk in public; on the other hand, in private he can be courteous and considerate. "Reading this book is an exciting, irresistible experience," PW stated.
Copyright 1986 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.


"Try dipping into Mr. Manso's interviews without at once becoming addicted....You can't." -- The New York Times

"Manso's exhaustive, kiss-and-tell biography seems fitting for a man of such caprice and profligacy, his work defined by excess and brilliance at once." -- The Boston Globe

"The book is grand gossip, a sort of portable Hamptons, Everyman's own private literary soirée." -- Time

"A rare and unprecedented document." -- Los Angeles Times Book Review

"Frank, detailed, outspoken, funny, horrifying, fascinating, ludicrous, awesome, irreverent, brave, hypnotic, petty, dramatic, adroit, and unseemly -- a whirlwig of ambition, passion, and disaster....It will make you forget your troubles." -- The Village Voice

Customer Reviews

3.7 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

12 of 16 people found the following review helpful By Ted Burke on March 1, 2009
Format: Paperback
Author Peter Manso published a highly readable oral history of his then-hero and mentor Norman Mailer in the '80's titled " Mailer: His Life and Times". Manso, a good writer in all other respects, has republished the book with a lengthy afterword in which he repays the insult Mailer had paid him when it turned out the biography displeased him greatly. Mailer and Manso were close friends during the eighties, with Manso admitting as much that he was , more or less, Mailer's acolyte. The pair even shared a beach front house in Provincetown , Rhode Island. Mailer had written to the local paper ""P.D. Manso is looking for gold in the desert of his arid inner life, where lies and distortions are the only cactus juice to keep him going." Ouch, that hurts. But what puzzles me is that Peter Manso has seemingly nurtured the hurt for over thirty years and now takes a few too many pages to give his account, share gossip, insult Mailer friends. The aggrieved author seems less a wounded innocent than a gold digger . The lesson, I suppose, is that one ought not live with their heroes. I'd agree that Manso's Mailer biography is a fascinating read as far as it goes; it's hard to go astray when you've a group of interesting people giving an intimate account of a singularly intriguing and often brilliant personality like Mailer. But based on this, Manso's introduction to the new edition just sounds like sour grape he wants everyone to take a sip from. The problem with having heroes who embody every virtue and ambition one wants to cultivate for their own is that heroes will betray you, intentionally or otherwise.Read more ›
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10 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Christopher Busa on December 23, 2008
Format: Paperback
I read Manso's oral biography when it first came out in 1985, smitten by the matrix of competing testimony that somehow balanced out the extremes, and made Mailer seem alive, animated with ambiguity, endearing in his flaws, and audacious in his ambition. Now, in this new edition, Manso has added an afterword, detailing the breakup of their friendship and working partnership. He has lost all sight of Mailer as a subject of biography. In sixty pages of unfocused anger, he attacks the very people who were crucial to Mailer's life since Manso's account ended. He gives us a picture of the great author as a desearate to keep his name before the public with a series of what Manso calls "non-books," ignoring the accomplisments of key books written after their breakup, including Gospel According to the Son and the Castle in the Forest. He badmouths Mailer's biography of Picasso as a plagiarism of John Richardson. His screed is especially mean-spirited toward the very people Mailer drew around him in his last years: Larry Schiller, J. M. Lennon, and his wife Norris. Toward Norris, he is most poisonous, willfully distorted each positive attribute into a hideous caricature. I felt a flush of shame pass across my face, shame that Manso should fall so low as to rage against the man he so admired. In the afterword, Manso also belittles Provincetown Arts, the magazine I edit, saying that I rejected an excerpt for his 2002 book "Ptown: Art, Sex, and Money on the Outer Cape." Indeed, I did, but not, as Manso said, because I wanted to make cuts unacceptable to him, but rather because Manso came over to my house and demanded that I put his name in a banner across the logo on the magazine's cover, saying that Vanity Fair did so when his Brando book came out. The cover feature that year was Sebastian Junger, author of the Perfect Storm, and Manso said, "I'm as famous as Junger--I want equal billing!" Mailer's egotism posseses charm, Manso's arid self subsists on its own festering bile.
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4 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Anson on February 2, 2011
Format: Paperback
Best anatomization of everything good and bad in the life (and works) of N. Mailer to date. The Afterword in the new edition can only be called brilliant, on par with James Baldwin's account of his apprentice-mentor relationship with Richard Wright. How Nailer went bad (and boring) is now finally revealed!
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