O U T S I D E L E F T   stay i n d e p e n d e n t

In The Presence of Greatness Now

Gone gone gone one more Norman's gone

get the weekly Outsideleft newsletter
by LamontPaul, for outsideleft.com
originally published: November, 2007
often overlooked is The Fight, his book about Ali - Foreman

Perhaps if you're lucky enough, a few times in life you might feel like you have found yourself in the presence of Greatness and I guess if there is a Higher Power that succors us away at the end, to someplace beyond our mortal coil, then this morning that Power, whose literary taste in recent years has often been called into question, despite preternaturally valuing a good yarn, will indeed find itself in the presence of greatness, as once about 10 years ago, did I.

Laundry List then, in case you didn't know, can't type Norman Mailer into Wikipedia or oh well missed something. By and large his books were outsize, or plain fat. It was his life that was truly outsize. Born. Fought in World War 2, wrote 'The Naked and the Dead' about his experience, studied on the GI bill in Paris, founded the Village Voice. Married 6 times and stabbed at least one wife, (what do we know) won Pulitzer prizes plural, feuded with Gore Vidal (whom I for a time thought had invented well, everything) and generally lived the consummate American Life.

About ten years ago I saw him address the Writers Bloc in Los Angeles. He was their pope. I can't remember the girl I went with,  I can't remember who interviewed him, I can't remember the seat fabric, the lighting, I can't remember anything except how piss-poor their technology was. I do remember he was less physically robust than I'd imagined he would be, as if he could never age. As if he would always be the fighter that won. I remember Just awe. The same quiet ah shucks it is good to be alive (if you are that someone else) awe I also felt when I met John Waters briefly or saw Prince signing autographs in full Prince regalia close up in Tower Records in London, or when, well, there have been moments, breathtaking moments. But my Norman Mailer moment... Yeah, it was a good one. He spoke, gosh he could have read bubblegum wrappers and it would've had the force of gravity; Instead he read from Ancient Evenings and it was simply exquisite.  But I wonder whether he'd care for any hushed, revered tones at all. He's an icon now for people who are mainly dead.

Anyway. Along the way he wrote the best damned sports book ever, one that is never mentioned enough in and around sports. The Fight - the shenanigans leading up to and enveloping boxings greatest ever night, the Ali/Foreman rumble in the jungle, Zaire '74. I know for most people reading this, Mailer won't be missed much. But he will be missed.

see more stories from outsideleft's Culture archive »»

LamontPaul

publisher, lamontpaul is currently producing a collection of outsideleft's anti-travel stories for the SideCartel, with a downloadable mumbled word version accompanied by understated musical fabulists, the frozen plastic

more stories you really could read...


thumb through the ancient archives:

search for something you might like...


sign up for the outsideleft weekly. a selection of new and archived stories every week. Or less.

View previous campaigns.

I'm Certain You Cannot Be Wrong, Socrates
DEATHTRIPPING with Jack Sargeant
Paul Hawkins talks to Jack Sargeant is the author of Deathtripping: The Cinema of Transgression the most exhaustive handbook of post-punk New York film.
Mine Ears Have seen the Glory
NYC Noise masterminds Black Dice and Growing land in Cook's town to fill up and end up blowing his mind way open, and convince him that he really needs an e-Bow now, and that he must join the revolution.
Hello Darkness, My Old Friend
What captures the zeitgeist better than naming your band I Love You but I've Chosen Darkness
Possessed By the Devil's Comedic Timing
While the world goes to hell, Gorgoroth's over-the-top Satanic malevolence puts a smile on my face.
Elliott Smith Either/Or

March sees a greatly expanded reissue of Elliott Smith's most critically acclaimed album Either/Or

Some of our favorite things...