GERMAINE GREER


My Mailer Problem

It was early on in the career of The Female Eunuch as the forever out-of-print English best seller that I heard Mailer wanted to debate with Kate Millett and me in a benefit for the Theatre for Ideas in the New York Town Hall. It seemed such an extraordinary recognition for a new writer that it never occurred to me to refuse, although within days I had heard Kate Millett had done just that. I never did hear her reason, although I privately rejected other people's versions of it: that Kate was afraid of Mailer, that she was gentle and shy, that she was exhausted and disgusted after being long enmeshed in the machinery of publicity. It was not until I acquired a copy of Harper's March, 1971, issue that I began to see that there were legitimate and persuasive reasons for having nothing to do with the liberation of Norman Mailer . The Prisoner of Sex is itself a counter-offensive in among "the radiation of advancements and awards in the various salients, wedges and vectors of that aesthetic battlefield known as the literary pie." For Mailer, Women's Liberation had become simply another battle of the books in a war in which he had been campaigning all his life. I had already discovered the seedy side of Grub Street, in the curious selection by editors of pregnant women to review my book, in the cursory readings which supported the subjective bias of reviewer after reviewer, especially those who praised me. This squalid arena was where G.I. Joe Mailer liked best to fight; unfortunately he persisted in confusing paper pellets and bullets of the brain with real blood and iron, so there was no telling where this armchair militarism might lead him.

It was this failure in perspective which led him to be so easily

____________________
From Esquire 3, vol. 76 ( September 1971). Copyright © 1971 by Esquire.

-65-

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Norman Mailer
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Norman Mailer *
  • Contents *
  • Editor's Note ix
  • Introduction 1
  • The Angels Are White 7
  • The Early Novels 17
  • The Aesthetics of Norman Mailer 27
  • On the Parapet 33
  • Mailer's New Style 51
  • My Mailer Problem 65
  • Male Chauvinist? 79
  • The Minority Within 85
  • The Naked, the Dead, and the Machine 115
  • "The Armies of the Night" 127
  • "The Executioner's Song" 139
  • The Taking of the Moon 143
  • Sex, Creativity and God 167
  • The Prisoner as Creator in "The Executioner's Song" 183
  • Norman in Egypt: "Ancient Evenings" 193
  • Chronology 201
  • Contributors 203
  • Bibliography 205
  • Acknowledgments 207
  • Index 209
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