Hard to believe, but it has now been three years since the death of Norman Mailer. Mailer was one of the most important American writers in the postwar era, winning a Pulitzer Prize and National Book Award for the unusual nonfictional novel, The Armies of the Night, and another Pulitzer for The Executioner’s Song, a fictional account based on the life of convicted murderer, Gary Gilmore. In doing so, Mailer has left us with important considerations for the role of writers in American culture—as public figures, as journalists, as historians, as creators of fiction.
Of course, there is his infamous appearance on the Dick Cavett Show, with a headbutt to Gore Vidal backstage, where Mailer openly antagonized Cavett, Vidal, and Janet Flanner, and the entire audience, really (the entertainment value cannot be overstressed). But his legacy is better commemorated by the Norman Mailer Writers Colony. Founded in Provincetown, MA in 2009, the Writers Colony embodies the educational importance of writing. Mailer himself was a great champion of writing programs and young writers, and the center seeks to encourage writers’ conversation through a variety of readings, forums, awards, and fellowships.
And yes, here is the video: