"Something can be true and still be fiction."
November 22, 2013 1:04 PM   Subscribe

[Norman Mailer] wanted to talk a lot about age and he told me I should look after myself. 'You know,' he said, 'when you get to my age you have to pee a lot. And there is no distance at all between knowing you want to pee and then just peeing. I was at Plimpton’s funeral in St John the Divine not long ago, and they sat me near the front, you know. Suddenly, I had to go. I knew I wasn’t gonna make it all the way down the aisle so I spotted a little side door and I got the canes and nipped in there. Halfway down the corridor, I was looking for a john and who do I see but Philip Roth. "Hey, Philip, what you doin' here?" "Oh, I had to pee," Roth said.'
Mailer's Last Punch is Andrew O'Hagan's tender, short memoir of his interactions with Norman Mailer. Among other things he talks about are the long interview of Mailer he did for The Paris Review and an event at the New York Public Library with Mailer and Günter Grass.
posted by Kattullus (5 comments total) 12 users marked this as a favorite
I had a most pithy comment, a bit long... but, er, be right back.
posted by sammyo at 1:27 PM on November 22, 2013

Love that memoir review. So many insights into Mailer. Thanks so much for posting this!
posted by zarq at 5:28 PM on November 22, 2013

That was a great piece. I've never liked Mailer the writer, but watching people react to him is so much fun. Everyone took him so seriously, he inspired so much either devotion or furious hatred. How many writers after him have managed that? It makes me want to go back and try reading him again to see what I missed.

Is there a link to the James Wood review mentioned at the end of the essay? I'd like to see whether it was appropriately nose-punchy, but haven't been able to find it (although instead I found Wood's review of Harold Bloom's Jesus and Yahweh, which is like slipping into a bath just short of scalding!).
posted by mittens at 7:07 PM on November 22, 2013

mittens, I think he was sincerely a mean drunk. Or maybe I don't know enough about him.
posted by saber_taylor at 12:22 AM on November 23, 2013

Is there a link to the James Wood review mentioned at the end of the essay?

There seem to be copyright restrictions, but here are the opening paragraphs.
posted by IndigoJones at 9:50 AM on November 23, 2013 [1 favorite]

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