On the New Yorker website, Louis Menand reflects on the late Norman Mailer’s life and career. Mailer himself rarely contributed to The New Yorker, though. Until Tina Brown’s tenure, Mailer had published only two short poems in the magazine, both in 1961. There are just five bylines in all. As one of America’s most important postwar writers and a frequent object of public attention, he was far more often written about; a search on his name in The Complete New Yorker yields more than 100 hits.
Indeed, it would appear that Mailer had little interest in writing for the magazine. Perhaps he considered that a New Yorker byline would be incidental to his various projects—to remake American literature, to upend the battle of the sexes, to provide a channel whereby citizens could regain authenticity. Nevertheless, he’s enough of an icon to have served as the subject of a New Yorker cartoon—eight times. This 1997 Lee Lorenz drawing is apropos.
Mailer’s reputation doesn’t rest primarily on his novels (although I still plan to read The Naked and the Dead). Provocateur, mayoral candidate, co-founder of The Village Voice, journalist of genius, he did not squander his tenure on this planet. —Martin Schneider
Hello! We're a small band of culture writers, editors, and artists based in New York and Los Angeles. Emdashes, which spent its formative years as a New Yorker fan blog, is our collection of conversations—mostly civilized—about magazines, movies, design, punctuation, and other things that stir us.
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Emdashes, founded in 2004, is written and drawn by Emily Gordon, Martin Schneider, Pollux, Jonathan Taylor, and Benjamin Chambers, as well as occasional guest contributors. All posts before October 2008 are by Emily Gordon.