Norman Mailer

Norman Mailer is generally considered the representative author of recent decades, able to change his style and subject many times. In his appetite for experience, vigorous style, and dramatic public persona, he follows in the tradition of Ernest Hemingway. His ideas are bold and innovative. He is the reverse of a writer like Barth, for whom the subject is not as important as the way it is handled. Unlike the invisible Pynchon, Mailer constantly courts and demands attention. A novelist, essayist, sometime politician, literary activist, and occasional actor, he is always on the scene. From such "New Journalism" exercises as Miami and the Siege of Chicago (1968), an analysis of the 1968 U.S. presidential conventions, and his compelling study about the execution of a condemned murderer, The Executioner's Song (1979), he has turned to writing such ambitious, heavyweight novels as Ancient Evenings (1983), set in the Egypt of antiquity, and Harlot's Ghost (1992), revolving around the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency.