All Hail Mailer! A Belated Eulogy for a Fellow Jeffersonian
In Minding the Campus, Eric Clifford Graf counts Mailer as “best of the American Left.” While Mailer himself might take issue with this categorization, Graf’s point is well taken in this lengthy homage to Mailer’s career. Graf writes:
Whatever Mailer says, and whatever is said about Mailer, he’s a writer who exhibits himself like few then or since. He’s a model of sincerity, as well as of some weird, professional passion. He wears his writing on his shoes. Stuff sticks to it; maybe that’s why it’s always screaming for reform. If not precise, his novels are at least tangible, sensibly true. That makes him utterly American, neither Covey nor Dimmesdale. His arrogance, his jocularity, so irritating in relation to so much serious subject matter, are just the opportunity costs of his sincerity. Thus, it’s hard to imagine Mailer speaking to a foreigner. He’s too gregarious, too happy to be hostile; he’d be handicapped in that arena. For that reason, I imagine he’d still attempt it. Egotistical sincerity is the only salve for History’s carbuncles. Tocquevillian, but also quixotic. A pure pirate. Argentine economist and philosopher Walter Castro once told me that he thought liberals live broken dreams. Reading Mailer will show you what he meant.
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