Bob Tyrrell weighs in on Mailer

Bob Tyrrell is the longtime editor of the conservative magazine The American Spectator. He recounts how he came to appreciate Norman Mailer and eventually develop an amiable acquaintance with him:

I, at first, did not share [Malcolm] Muggeridge’s esteem for Norman. In fact, when I first read Norman in the 1960s and early 1970s, I rather hated him. But as life went on I came to Muggeridge’s side. Norman was a genuine literary talent without being precious. He could write a very clean sentence and pack it with fireworks. When he was not snarling — and he snarled less frequently as time went on — he was good company, always interesting, and occasionally even right. He was gutsy, energetic, playful, and devoted to telling a good story and telling it well. Moreover, I liked many of the same things he liked: competitive athletics, books, politics, the American scene. Indicative of his independent streak was his opposition to feminism, which for a New York liberal could lead to exile. Indicative of his left-wing bent, he obsessed over “the corporation,” and furnished his obsession with the usual left-wing ghosts and goblins.

It’s a cheerful and respectful piece. Compare it with Dick Cavett’s off-beat remembrance for The New York Times website and Bill Buckley’s quizzical notes on Mailer at NRO.

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