I should have loved Norman Mailer. Worshiped at the feet of the co-founder of the Village Voice, and author of the Naked and the Dead. Actually his writing is not bad. One day I'll finish the Executioner's Song.
As a baby boomer, a pseudo-intellectual, and someone from the New York Metropolitan area, demographically, I should have been Norman Mailer's biggest fan. But I was too young. Norman Mailer was the god of my teachers in the English Department of Rutgers in the 70's. But not of my crowd. He would have scoffed at young men who didn't know the rules of boxing or betting at the racetrack.
He was a man's man. He was a working class intellectural. He was welcomed at the bars he frequented. He knew how to order a drink, play pool at the bar table and fight a man when he had too. He knew how to flirt with the pretty girl at the party. He was sort of the Jewish New Yorker's Ernest Hemingway. He fought Rip Torn.
The younger baby boomers couldn't always relate to him. He was your older brother or your TA's favorite writer. He had a pre-Pre Beatles sensibility and did not tranlate as well as, say, Allen Ginsberg. He was too old school.
editor's note: for a hilarious account from Jimmy Breslin on the 1969 Mailer for Mayor campaign click on Mailer segment on this page.