Norman Mailer, Dies at 84

He was a literary giant and will be missed, whether you agreed with him or not.

Norman Mailer, Towering Writer With a Matching Ego, Dies at 84 [New York Times]
Norman Mailer, the combative, controversial and often outspoken novelist who loomed over American letters longer and larger than any other writer of his generation, died early yesterday in Manhattan. He was 84.

Norman Mailer died of acute renal failure at Mount Sinai Hospital, his literary executor said.
The cause was acute renal failure, his family said.

Mr. Mailer burst on the scene in 1948 with “The Naked and the Dead,” a partly autobiographical novel about World War II, and for six decades he was rarely far from center stage. He published more than 30 books, including novels, biographies and works of nonfiction, and twice won the Pulitzer Prize: for “The Armies of the Night” (1968), which also won the National Book Award, and “The Executioner’s Song” (1979).

He also wrote, directed and acted in several low-budget movies, helped found The Village Voice and for many years was a regular guest on television talk shows, where he could reliably be counted on to make oracular pronouncements and deliver provocative opinions, sometimes coherently and sometimes not.

Mr. Mailer belonged to the old literary school that regarded novel writing as a heroic enterprise undertaken by heroic characters with egos to match. He was the most transparently ambitious writer of his era, seeing himself in competition not just with his contemporaries but with the likes of Tolstoy and Dostoevsky.

I find it rather amusing how Mailer obviously really got under someone’s skin at the Times as his obit really harps on the amazing dimensions of his ego. Frankly, it was no larger than many in the public eye. Or sphere, for that matter.