Fist Son of the New School: Norman Mailer
Norman Mailer was a writer, journalist and essayist, winner of a Pullitzer Prize for literature and a National Book Award. His reputation still divides critics however, both on literary and political grounds. Whilst it is absolutely understood that Mailer was a Democrat, he remained caustically critical of any institution throughout his life, especially all forms of the Right, Republican and Conservative society - but he was also similarly caustic about the New Left and the 'Hip' movements, which he saw as apocalyptic nihilism.
Norman Mailer was a genius writer, but his arrogance was also well-known, prompting many literary critics to dislike him. As one of the foremost writers of the New Journalism (including Truman Capote, Hunter S. Thompson and Tom Wolfe) he was known for his acerbic attack of society, culture, and politics. He wrote biographies of the famous 60's 'legendary figures' such as Marylin Monroe, and Lee Harvey Oswald, and his work seems to point to an idea that American culture was a mythic empire, teetering over the abyss of anarchic collapse. His critics found much to dislike in his work, from the Left Wing saying that he was too conservative, and the Republicans saying that he was unpatriotic.
Whatever one's personal feelings are about Norman Mailer, his works speak for themselves. His first book The Naked and the Dead is a searing account of the Pacific War through the eyes of one platoon's training and eventual mobilisation against an island under Japanese control. It explores many of Mailers most enduring themes such as dehumanisation, totalitarianism, and social morality. A signed first true edition of this book from Rhinehart, New York (1948) can be found for as much as seven thousand US dollars, although unsigned first editions will diminish that price to a thousand US dollars.
For the determined (but strong-stomached) collector, then perhaps consider Normal Mailer's most famous work, The Executioner's Song published in 1979, by Little, Brown and Co. This book tells the harrowing story of Gary Gilmour, America's first murderer to face the death penalty from 1967 to 1977, based on extensive interviews of the man's delinquent, and emotionally troubled life. A good signed first edition copy can cost as little as three hundred dollars at auction.
For those who are perhaps looking for happier material - look to Mailer's biography of Marilyn Monroe in Marilyn: The Biography (1973) which recounts Marilyn's life, putting forward Mailer's belief that Marilyn had an affair with JFK, and was killed by the US Security Services for her affiliation to the President. A fine first edition hardcover, again signed by Mailer and including numerous black and white photographs from the time, for three hundred US dollars!
Mailer, Norman. Naked and the Dead. Rinehart and Co, New York (1948). First edition, first issue with Rinehart logo on copyright page
Mailer, Norman. The Naked and the Dead. Allan Wingate, London (1949). 253 copies printed.
Mailer, Norman. Barbary Shore. Rinehart, New York (1951). first issue with the Rinehart imprint in a circle on the copyright page
Mailer, Norman. The White Negro. City Lights, San Francisco (1957). Superficial Reflections on the Hipster.
Mailer, Norman. An American Dream. Dial Press, New York (1965). Dust jacket art by Paul Bacon
Mailer, Norman. Cannibals and Christians. Dial Press, New York (1966). First issue with frontis photo tipped in
Mailer, Norman. The Armies of the Night. New American Library, New York (1968). History as a Novel; The Novel as History
Mailer, Norman. Of a Fire on the Moon. Little Brown, New York (1970). Dust jacket design by Sarah El Bindari
Mailer, Norman. Marilyn. Grosset and Dunlap, New York (1973). A Biography By Norman Mailer; Pictures by the World's Foremost Photographers
Mailer, Norman. The Faith of Graffiti. Praeger, New York (1974). Text by Mailer; Photographs by Jon Naar; Designed by Mervyn Kurlansky; 500 copies printed.
Mailer, Norman. The Naked and the Dead. Franklin Library, Franklin Center, Pennsylvania (1979). Illustrated by Alan E. Cober
Mailer, Norman. Of Women and Their Elegance. Simon and Schuster, New York (1980). The published work featured a larger complement of photographs, by Milton H. Greene
Mailer, Norman. Ancient Evenings. Little, Brown, Boston (1983). 350 copies printed.
Mailer, Norman. Tough Guys Don't Dance. Random House, New York (1984). 350 copies printed.
Mailer, Norman. Conversations With Norman Mailer. University Press of Mississippi, Jackson (1988). Edited by J. Michael Lennon
Mailer, Norman. Harlot's Ghost. Random House, New York (1991). 300 copies printed.
King, Stephen. LORD JOHN SIGNATURES. Lord John Press, Northridge (1991). FORD, Gerald; HARRISON, Jim; UPDIKE, John; WELTY, Eudora; MAILER, Norman; BRADBURY, Ray; BURKE, James; etc; 576 copies printed.
Mailer, Norman. How the Wimp Won the War. Lord John Press, Northridge (1992). 275 copies and 26 lettered copies printed.
Mailer, Norman. BAY/SKY. Bulfinch / Little Brown, Boston (1993). Meyerowitz, Joel. (Photographs)
Mailer, Norman. Oswald's Tale. Random House Inc, Westminster (1995). An American Mystery
Mailer, Norman. Picasso. Atlantic Monthly, New York (1995). Portrait of Picasso as a Young Man; more than 250 illustrations
Lennon, J. Michael. Works and Days. Sligo Press, Shavertown (2000). LENNON, Donna Pedro; Total 525 copies printed; Preface by Norman Mailer
Fusco, Paul. RFK Funeral Train. Umbrage Editions, New York (2000). with Text by Norman Mailer, Evan Thomas, and Senator Edward M. Kennedy; illustrated throughout with full-color photographs
Mailer, Norman. Enduring Justice. Powerhouse Books, New York (2001). Preface written by Mailer; Introduction by Coles
Mailer, Norman. Norman Mailer's Letters on an American Dream. Sligo Press, Shavertown (2004). Toatl 150 copies printed; Edited by J. Michael Lennon
Mailer, Norman. THE MAILER REVIEW. Norman Mailer Society, Tampa (2007). Total 56 copies; 40 numbered copies and 16 were presentation copies; Contributors include Morris Dickstein, Donald L.Kaufmann, J. Michael Lennon, Barbara Mailer Wasserman
Mailer, Norman. THE MAILER REVIEW. Norman Mailer Society, Tampa (2008). VOLUME II, NUMBER I; edited by Phillip Sipiora; Total 41 copies including 26 lettered copies.
Mailer, Norman. Moonfire. Benedikt Taschen Verlag, Koln, Germany (2009). Colum McCann and Buzz Aldrin; The epic journey of Apollo 11; 1969 copies printed.
Mailer, Norman. Moonfire. Taschen, New York (2009). The Epic Journey of Apollo 11; Introduction by Colum McCann; Aldrin, Buzz (Photographer); 1969 copies printed.