Overview

NAMED ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR BY THE GLOBE AND MAIL

Norman Mailer was one of the towering figures of twentieth-century American letters and an acknowledged master of the essay. Mind of an Outlaw, the first posthumous publication from this outsize literary icon, collects Mailer’s most important and representative work in the form that many rank as his most ...
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Mind of an Outlaw: Selected Essays

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Overview

NAMED ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR BY THE GLOBE AND MAIL

Norman Mailer was one of the towering figures of twentieth-century American letters and an acknowledged master of the essay. Mind of an Outlaw, the first posthumous publication from this outsize literary icon, collects Mailer’s most important and representative work in the form that many rank as his most electrifying.
 
As America’s foremost public intellectual, Norman Mailer was a ubiquitous presence in our national life—on the airwaves and in print—for more than sixty years. With his supple mind and pugnacious persona, he engaged society more than any other writer of his generation. The trademark Mailer swagger is much in evidence in these pages as he holds forth on culture, ideology, politics, sex, gender, and celebrity, among other topics. Here is Mailer on boxing, Mailer on Hemingway, Mailer on Marilyn Monroe, and, of course, Mailer on Mailer—the one subject that served as the beating heart of all of his nonfiction.
 
From his early essay “A Credo for the Living,” published in 1948, when the author was twenty-five, to his final writings in the year before his death, Mailer wrestled with the big themes of his times. He was one of the most astute cultural commentators of the postwar era, a swashbuckling intellectual provocateur who never pulled a punch and was rarely anything less than interesting. Mind of an Outlaw spans the full arc of Mailer’s evolution as a writer, including such essential pieces as his acclaimed 1957 meditation on hipsters, “The White Negro”; multiple selections from his seminal collection Advertisements for Myself; and a never-before-published essay on Sigmund Freud.
 
Incendiary, erudite, and unrepentantly outrageous, Norman Mailer was a dominating force on the battlefield of ideas. Featuring an incisive Introduction by Jonathan Lethem, Mind of an Outlaw forms a fascinating portrait of Mailer’s intellectual development across the span of his career as well as the preoccupations of a nation in the last half of the American century.

Praise for Mind of an Outlaw
 
“[Mailer’s] best and brightest.”Esquire
 
“The fifty essays collected in this retrospective volume span sixty-four years and show [Norman] Mailer (1923–2007) at his brawny, pugnacious, and egotistical best. . . . This provocative collection brims with insights and reflections that show why Mailer is regarded as a great literary mind of his generation.”Publishers Weekly
 
“The selections open a window onto the capacious mind and process of one of the most volatile intellects of the twentieth century.”Library Journal
 
“Vintage Mailer: brilliant, infuriating, witty and never, ever boring.”—Tampa Bay Times
 
“As good an introduction to Mailer’s habits of mind as there’s ever been.”Kirkus Reviews
 
“There’s no arguing about Mailer the essayist—he was outstanding. . . . These insightful essays educate, argue and persuade on everything from politics and literature to film, philosophy and the human condition.”Shelf Awareness

From the Hardcover edition.

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Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
11/01/2013
Writer, controversial cultural icon, and National Book Award and Pulitzer Prize winner Mailer (The Naked and the Dead; Armies of the Night; The Executioner's Song) died in 2007, but his reputation as a giant of American letters survives. These 50 pieces—essays, speeches, screeds, and reviews—edited by Sipiora (English & film studies, Univ. of South Florida) examine artistic freedom ("What I Think of Artistic Freedom"), politics ("Christ, Satan, and the Presidential Candidate," "Clinton and Dole: The War of the Oxymorons"), literature and writing ("The Mind of an Outlaw," "Huckleberry Finn, Alive at 100," "The Hazards and Sources of Writing"), social issues ("Until Dead: Thoughts on Capital Punishment"), and a host of other topics. Organized chronologically from 1942 to 2006, the selections open a window onto the capacious mind and process of one of the most volatile intellects of the 20th century; Mailer was admired and reviled in equal measure. VERDICT Plenty of critics have commented throughout the decades on Mailer's sometimes uneven output, but very few of them ever questioned the passion or power of his prose. Taken individually, these pieces are snapshots of times and places integral to the cultural landscape of America over the last 70 years. Regarded as a whole, they serve as insightful social commentary and justification for continued attention to the writer's work.—Patrick A. Smith, Bainbridge Coll., GA
Publishers Weekly
09/02/2013
The 50 essays collected in this retrospective volume span 64 years and show Mailer (1923–2007) at his brawny, pugnacious, and egotistical best. Although early selections seem dated—among them, “The Homosexual Villain,” his confession of his ignorance of, and hence past uneasiness with, homosexuality—he hits his stride with the 1957 classic “The White Negro,” which equates the mindset of white hipster rebels with the sensibility of American blacks, who have “been living on the margin between totalitarianism and democracy for two centuries.” Here, Mailer also draws parallels between outlaw minds and criminal psychopaths, a thread that winds through several essays, notably “Until Dead,” prompted by the execution of Gary Gilmore (subject of Mailer’s Pulitzer Prize–winning novel The Executioner’s Song), and “Discovering Jack H. Abbott,” which launched his campaign to get convicted murderer Abbott released from prison. Mailer’s many interests led him to topics including his contemporaries’ novels, Marilyn Monroe’s films, black power, and politics. He’s sharpest when writing about himself, as in the title essay, an engrossing account of getting his novel The Deer Park published. Featuring an introduction by Jonathan Lethem, this provocative collection brims with insights and reflections that show why Mailer is regarded as a great literary mind of his generation. Agent: Jeffrey Posternak, Wylie Agency. (Oct.)
From the Publisher
Praise for Mind of an Outlaw

“[Mailer’s] best and brightest.”Esquire
 
“The fifty essays collected in this retrospective volume span sixty-four years and show [Norman] Mailer (1923–2007) at his brawny, pugnacious, and egotistical best. . . . This provocative collection brims with insights and reflections that show why Mailer is regarded as a great literary mind of his generation.”Publishers Weekly
 
“The selections open a window onto the capacious mind and process of one of the most volatile intellects of the twentieth century.”Library Journal
 
“Vintage Mailer: brilliant, infuriating, witty and never, ever boring.”—Tampa Bay Times
 
“As good an introduction to Mailer’s habits of mind as there’s ever been.”Kirkus Reviews
 
“There’s no arguing about Mailer the essayist—he was outstanding. . . . These insightful essays educate, argue and persuade on everything from politics and literature to film, philosophy and the human condition.”Shelf Awareness

Praise for Norman Mailer
 
“[Norman Mailer] loomed over American letters longer and larger than any other writer of his generation.”The New York Times
 
“A writer of the greatest and most reckless talent.”The New Yorker
 
“Mailer is indispensable, an American treasure.”The Washington Post
 
“A devastatingly alive and original creative mind.”Life
 
“Mailer is fierce, courageous, and reckless and nearly everything he writes has sections of headlong brilliance.”The New York Review of Books
 
“The largest mind and imagination [in modern] American literature . . . Unlike just about every American writer since Henry James, Mailer has managed to grow and become richer in wisdom with each new book.”Chicago Tribune
 
“Mailer is a master of his craft. His language carries you through the story like a leaf on a stream.”The Cincinnati Post

Kirkus Reviews
2013-10-05
Further advertisements for himself by the late and increasingly not-so-well-remembered bad boy of postwar American literature. In Advertisements for Myself (1959), with which this collection has some overlap, Mailer famously (or infamously, depending on your point of view) wrote, "The only one of my contemporaries who I felt had more talent than myself was James Jones." Even then, he took apart Jones' From Here to Eternity (1951) for its "faults, ignorances, and a smudge of the sentimental," naturally preferring his own novel The Naked and the Dead (1948). As for Jack Kerouac, no go; James Baldwin "is too charming a writer to be major"; and so forth. It has to be remembered, on reading such unguarded statements, that for all Mailer's pugnacious self-regard, he had a point: He was the big dog in the yard, at least for a time, and what he wrote, plenty of people read and pondered and argued about. His 1957 essay "The White Negro," included here, was one such occasion, bringing the word "hipster" to currency but, more seriously, giving voice to the existential angst that characterized the time. Mailer risked ostracism and worse by declaring that the United States was the heavy in the Cold War, and if he could be heavy-handed and lumbering and old-fashioned sounding ("Technological man in his terminal diseases, dying of air he can no longer breathe, of packaged foods he can just about digest, of plastic clothing his skin can hardly bear and of static before which his spirit has near expired"), very few did political outrage better. In fact, as this wide-ranging collection shows, which is political from start to finish, about his only rival in miffed political discourse was Gore Vidal. As good an introduction to Mailer's habits of mind as there's ever been, though there's also room for an anthology blending the greatest hits of his fiction as well as his sharp-edged essays.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780679645658
  • Publisher: Random House Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 10/15/2013
  • Sold by: Random House
  • Format: eBook
  • Pages: 656
  • Sales rank: 476,660
  • File size: 3 MB

Meet the Author

Norman Mailer
Born in 1923 in Long Branch, New Jersey, and raised in Brooklyn, New York, Norman Mailer was one of the most influential writers of the second half of the 20th century and a leading public intellectual for nearly sixty years. He is the author of more than thirty books. The Castle in the Forest, his last novel, was his eleventh New York Times bestseller. His first novel, The Naked and the Dead, has never gone out of print. His 1968 nonfiction narrative, The Armies of the Night, won the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Award. He won a second Pulitzer for The Executioner’s Song and is the only person to have won Pulitzers in both fiction and nonfiction. Five of his books were nominated for National Book Awards, and he won a lifetime achievement award from the National Book Foundation in 2005. Mr. Mailer died in 2007 in New York City.
 
Jonathan Lethem is the author of eight novels, including most recently Dissident Gardens. A recipient of the MacArthur fellowship, Lethem has published his stories and essays in The New Yorker, Harper’s, Rolling Stone, Esquire, and The New York Times, among others. He lives in California.

Phillip Sipiora is a professor of English and film studies at the University of South Florida. He is the author or editor of four books and has lectured nationally and internationally on twentieth-century literature and film. He is a longtime scholar of Norman Mailer and the editor of The Mailer Review.

Biography

One of the most provocative authors of the 20th century, Norman Mailer stood at the forefront of the New Journalism, a form of creative nonfiction that wove autobiography, real events, and political commentary into unconventional novels. In a career that spanned nearly 60 years, he wrote more than 30 books, including The Naked and the Dead; The Armies of the Night,, for which he won a National Book Award and the Pulitzer Prize; The Executioner's Song, for which he won his second Pulitzer Prize; Harlot's Ghost; Oswald's Tale; The Gospel According to the Son; and his last novel, The Castle in the Forest, a chilling fictional portrait of the youthful Adolf Hitler. On November 10, 2007, he died of renal failure, leaving behind an astonishing literary legacy.

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    1. Also Known As:
      Nachem Malech Mailer
      Norman Mailer
    2. Hometown:
      Provincetown, Massachusetts, and New York, New York
    1. Date of Birth:
      January 31, 1923
    2. Place of Birth:
      Long Branch, New Jersey
    1. Date of Death:
      November 10, 2007

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