The words have not stopped flowing since author Norman Mailer, 84, died November 10, 2007, of renal failure. He has been called a Jewish pugilist, a towering writer with a matching ego, and nothing if not ambitious.
We call him the greatest Jewish-American novelist who never wrote about Jewish subjects. It was Mailer’s ambition to get away from his upbringing as a nice Jewish boy from Brooklyn that led him to a life of writing about arts and sports giants like Marilyn Monroe and Muhammad Ali, and murderers and tyrants like Gary Gilmore and Adolph Hitler, rather than subjects closer to his own origins, as his contemporaries Philip Roth and Bernard Malamud have done.
Mailer and his work was influenced by controversial psychiatrist and sex researcher, Wilhelm Reich, whose 50th yahrzeit passed this month.