Monday, November 12, 2007

Normal Mailer dead at 84

One of the last public appearance of Norman Mailer was here in NYC at the NYPL a few months ago with the author Gunter Grass. They were in conversation about Grass' new book Peeling the Onion. One thing that struck me about the conversation was just how old and feeble Mailer looked. He had trouble hearing also. It was so shocking to see a man who had been so larger-than-life for such a long time succumb to age. But another thing that struck me even more was how generous he was to Guntar Grass. Mailer wasn't originally on the the schedule for this event, so when his name appeared on the event description all of a sudden I was waiting for a clash of some kind with Grass.

In Peeling the Onion, Grass admitts for the first time that he was part of the SS army during World War II. It was a shocking revelation considering that Grass has been a loud advocate against Nazism. Instead of slamming Grass, Mailer basically opened the door for healing and understanding.

To see the C-Span Book TV event in its entirity.


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