When he was good…

“‘We will be fighting for forty years.’ Reading those words at the end of Norman Mailer’s 1968 Miami and the Siege of Chicago, you can’t help but feel a chill. At that year’s political conventions, the GOP performed its Lazarus act on Richard Nixon’s political career in Miami and the Democrats appointed Hubert Humphrey as the public face of their self-destruction in Chicago while, in the streets outside, Mayor Daley’s storm troopers brutalized protesters and anyone else in their path. These were socio-political events begging for the exegesis that Mailer, that dogged visionary, could bring them. Wrong as often as he was right, Mailer seems so brave precisely because he was so ready to risk looking foolish.”
War stories. Mailer on the ’68 conventions,, by Charles Taylor, The Phoenix, August 19, 2008 (via cursor.org, August 26, 2008)

…he was very very good.

This book kept me reading N Mailer for longer than I should have. Long enough to get disgusted. But this book is excellent.

I can’t remember if I read it in Prague or Kolobrzeg. When I lived there there wasn’t much to read, so I would never have chosen this book except for the dearth of reading materials.

There is a section I transcribed into my diary, which is in storage, because it was important to me. It was about the police in Chicago and it went, roughly, that the police are sociopaths, but they’re our sociopaths.

There is another Mailer non-fiction book where he attends a protest at the Pentagon with a bunch of hippies and Robert Lowell. And in this book I remember he pointed out how the savagery of the police was mainly directed at the women protesters.

You can’t sugar-coat this stuff, which might be why it’s so hard to listen to and so easily ignored.

I’d forgotten the 40 year quote (40 years in the wilderness?), but damn if he wasn’t right about that, too.

Oh, and:

“In 1968, Esquire’s correspondents in Chicago were William S. Burroughs, Terry Southern, and Jean Genet. The very possible election of Barack Obama would bring some sort of arrest to the worst impulses of the republic that Mailer sees gaining momentum here. The fight for journalism goes on.” From the same article above.

William S. Burroughs, Terry Southern, and Jean Genet are so cool, I’m surprised Chicago didn’t freeze over that summer. No one believes me when I tell them I read that in Mailer’s book. But see? It’s true! I wonder what they wrote for Esquire. Hmmmm…

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