The Loneliest Jukebox

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Monday, November 26, 2007


Farewell Norman Mailer. The obituaries came in thick and fast and everyone had an opinion. For many reasons -- some to do with Mailer, some not -- the links between his attitudes to women, his conduct towards women and his writing would always be under scrutiny. It was hard to scan these assessments without some mention of his stabbing of second wife Adele, in the late 1960s.

Few recalled his medicalised excuse for his conduct, which would fit in nicely with present day mores: "There are no modern Insarovs. Instead there are cancerphobes like Norman Mailer, who recently explained that had he not stabbed his wife (and acted out 'a murderous nest of feeling') he would have gotten cancer and 'been dead in a few years himself.' it is the same fantasy that was once attached to TB, but in rather a nastier version." (Susan Sontag, Illness as Metaphor (1978), Vintage, 1979 ed. p. 22.)

Prevention is better than cure, they say. Better for whom?

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