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Likely Stories

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Keir Graff and editors from Booklist's adult and youth departments write candidly about books, book reviewing, and the publishing industry

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Wednesday, January 31, 2007 10:37 am
Mailer Still Enjoys Fighting (Words)
Posted by: Keir Graff

Norman Mailer may not be feeling up to head-butting, sitting on, or stabbing anyone these days, but he’s still good for a war of words. As Rush and Molloy reported in last Friday’s New York Daily News, even if Michiko Kakutani isn’t reviewing his books for the New York Times, it’s still her fault that the paper gave him a bad review.

(The direct link to the piece has expired, but I was able to retrieve the cached text. Blog-time is merciless.)

Mailer tells us, “I learned that daily reviewers at The Times cannot review people who are enemies or friends. So ['The Castle in the Forest'] was given to [former Times film critic] Janet Maslin. Poor Janet. Is she going to write a good review of me under Michiko’s nose?”

Apparently not. Last Friday, Maslin sniffed that “for all the long-winded, claustrophobic intensity,” the conclusions of Mailer’s “repetitive” novel “turn out to have caca’s subtlety … It’s thinking is so small.”

“Janet Maslin is a Kakutani clone,” says Mailer. “You can quote me on that.”

But no Mailer grudge play is complete without a party scene:

Well, at least the feud lent some intrigue to the party that Mailer’s Random House editor David Ebershoff threw at his West Village townhouse. Joining a crowd that included E.L. Doctorow, Arthur Schlesinger and Judith Miller, author Gay Talese had just deposited his coat upstairs when he whispered to Mailer, “Michiko is up there. She’s a little nervous about coming down. But I told her you’re a forgiving guy.”

Mailer, who’s been the target of a few of Talese’s “whoppers,” replied, “Would you stop that [bleeping] b-?!”

Still hoping for the video Of Mailer’s appearance on The Martha Stewart Show to show up on YouTube. (Looking for it, I stumbled across footage of Mailer fighting Rip Torn that is…hard to describe.)


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