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The Lives of Norman Mailer: A Biography Paperback – December 1, 2000

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

The lives of Mailer, like the facets of his character, are many, because he keeps inventing himself. That is the underlying premise of Rollyson's attempt to grapple with this large literary talent cum bully-boy cum Jewish leprechaun, a rebel with many causes, who from his stunningly successful early novel The Naked and the Dead to his current Harlot's Ghost has bobbed and jabbed in combat with his critics and his times. Mailer's an aggressor with charm, a star performer with a penchant for shooting himself in the foot. Novelist, essayist, journalist, movie director (of his film Tough Guys Don't Dance a critic said, "Tough guys shouldn't direct"), amateur pugilist, reputed misogynist six times married, Pulitizer Prize winner--Mailer has been all these; and in this amply researched and sharp-eyed study there's nourishing fare for both his admirers and his detractors. Rollyson, biographer of Marilyn Monroe, Lillian Hellman and Martha Gellhorn, aptly does a good deal of jabbing and weaving himself in trying to catch a man who seems to have made flight from the gentility of his background an obsession, who has kept inventing himself perhaps because he has never quite found himself. But Rollyson may go too far in calling his subject a genius. Photos. 25,000 first printing; $35,000 ad/promo.
Copyright 1991 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Library Journal

Rollyson is in fine fettle in this first literary biography of Norman Mailer. Doted on as a child by his mother, Mailer has constantly had to "reinvent" himself to prevent a crippling sense of failure after the heady success of his first novel, The Naked and the Dead (1948). Since then, Mailer's fiction, reportage, and essays (notably "The White Negro" of the "hip" Fifties) has extolled the individual's struggle against postwar conformity--while at the same time snubbing women. Unfortunately (aside from such things as stabbing his second wife), his excessive need to live what he writes has resulted in an uneven portrayal of the American Dream. The author suggests Mailer may have had his last success, but his story is definitely "To Be Continued." Copious notes, photographs, and a bibliography are included. Index not seen. Recommended for both lay readers and scholars.
- Kenneth Mintz, Hoboken P.L.,
Copyright 1991 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 460 pages
  • Publisher: iUniverse (December 1, 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1583489967
  • ISBN-13: 978-1583489963
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 1 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #11,318,481 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Carl Rollyson, Professor of Journalism at Baruch College, The City University of New York, has published more than forty books ranging in subject matter from biographies of Marilyn Monroe, Lillian Hellman, Martha Gellhorn, Norman Mailer, Rebecca West, Susan Sontag, and Jill Craigie to studies of American culture, genealogy, children's biography, film, and literary criticism. He has authored more than 500 articles on American and European literature and history. His work has been reviewed in newspapers such as The New York Times and the London Sunday Telegraph and in journals such as American Literature and the Dictionary of Literary Biography. For four years (2003-2007) he wrote a weekly column, "On Biography," for The New York Sun and was President of the Rebecca West Society (2003-2007). His play, THAT WOMAN: REBECCA WEST REMEMBERS, has been produced at Theatresource in New York City. Amy Lowell Anew: A Biography (awarded a "We the People" NEH grant) will be published in August 2013. . "Hollywood Enigma: Dana Andrews, a biography of Dana Andrews was published in September 2012 by University Press of Mississippi. His biography, "American Isis: The Life and Death of Sylvia Plath" was published in February 2013, the fiftieth anniversary of her death. In 2013, he also published Amy Lowell Anew: A Biography, and in 2014 Marilyn Monroe Day by Day. His biography/memoir A Private Life of Michael Foot will be published in August 2015. He is currently at work on two books, Memoirs of a Serial Biographer and a biography of William Faulkner. His reviews of biography appear regularly in The Wall Street Journal, The Minneapolis Star Tribune, The Raleigh News & Observer, The Kansas City Star, and The New Criterion. He is currently advisory editor for the Hollywood Legends series published by the University Press of Mississippi. He welcomes queries from those interested in contributing to the series. Read his column, "Biographology," and his blog on http://carlrollyson.com.
Watch the book trailer for Hollywood Enigma: Dana Andrews: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G7xyz9sL3HA
Watch the book trailer for American Isis: The Life and Art of Sylvia Plath: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M54HJRqrOlU
Audition script for NORMAN MAILER: THE LAST ROMANTIC: http://www.carlrollyson.com/_i_norman_mailer__the_last_romantic__i__113276.htm

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

By J. Robert Ewbank on December 14, 2012
Format: Hardcover
This book by Carl Rollyson shows a tremendous amount of work in preparation and writing. The book to me, is a little confusing because it goes back and forth in time as it discusses various elements of Mailer's life. Mailer apparently is a very complex person, though a very gifted writer who has worked hard to present his craft to the public. There are so many aspects to the book and to Mailer's life that it was a little difficult for me to read and follow. There is a solid amount of work in the book so many will enjoy it. I took several days to think about how to handle this review because of the above difficulties for me.

J. Robert Ewbank author "Wesley's Ways" and "John Wesley, Natural Man, and the Isms"
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By Jill Bemis on July 26, 2013
Format: Paperback
This is a well-researched chronological organized look at the life of a complicated, insecure, and irascible writer. As readers work through the years, they will discover that Mailer was not an easy man to understand and yet was unwavering in his desire to write the stories as he saw fit. This interesting profile explains much of the myths and legends and surrounding Mailer's life and loves.
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By M. W. C. on December 26, 2012
Format: Paperback
I found this an excellent well written book regarding Norman Mailer. I was especially interested in his dealings with Jack Abbotts' Belly Of The Beast which dealt with his time in solitary confinement.
Plenty of foot notes and finding that just because you have a talent ie. writing, or acting, it does not make you a nice person.
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By Emily on June 20, 2014
Format: Hardcover
This is a very well-written book. The writing flows well and isn't dry. I also found the subject to be interesting, which I did not expect.
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1 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Peter Manso on December 25, 2011
Format: Hardcover
If I'm not mistaken, this is an amazon.com first -- an author posting a review of his own work. What gives? Has all decorum gone out the window?
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