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Norman Mailer's death last week was a shocker, not least because I'd written just three weeks earlier about his latest and presumably last book, in retrospect, the oh-so-appropriately titled On God.

There's been much ado about Mailer, including Norman Snider's appreciation on page D19 today. But I thought I'd comb through Globe and Mail archives to resurrect reviews of his incomparably eclectic and idiosyncratic work. I assumed we'd reviewed most of it. And so we had, though with a couple of significant exceptions. Mailer's first novel, The Naked and the Dead, was published in 1948, when Norman Mailer was not yet "Norman Mailer." But neither I nor our estimable research department could find any record of The Globe having reviewed 1979's The Executioner's Song, Mailer's brilliant magnum opus.

Since that book is divided into two sections, the Western Voices of the characters who form the tale and the Eastern Voices of the journalists and others who gnaw at it, here are our own Eastern Voices, snippets from various Globe reviews of Mailer's work.

The Deer Park (1955), reviewed by Joan Walker:

Mailer has ... certainly not written this book well enough to make anyone believe that he has done more than take his background and characters second-hand from the myriad of bad books and films already written about Hollywood. The almost illiterate producer, the nymphomaniacs, the homosexuals, the pimps and call girls.

Advertisements for Myself (1960), reviewed by Vernal House:

[Mailer]retraces some old ground, spits in the faces of his critics, gets nostalgic over some early short stories, blubbers away about his publishing problems over The Deer Park, includes some ridiculous pseudo-poems ... and hammers away at the fact that he is one hell of a writer. And so he is.

An American Dream (1965), reviewed by John Carroll (a grad school professor of mine):

The prose and the narrative move with the pace, elaboration and absurdity of a feverish nightmare. ... Mailer seems to be translating pop art into literary terms, into a style that has the hero firing " 'psychic particles' at enemies ... matching wits with an Irish Daddy Warbucks ... and talking at the end to his dead paramour from a Las Vegas phone booth.

The Armies of the Night (1968), reviewed by Peter Buitenhuis:

Mailer may infuriate and disgust his readers with his endless egotism, but he will ... excite with his virtuosity, intelligence, power and complexity. ... Sometimes I think of him as being the best writer in America.

Miami and the Siege of Chicago (1969), reviewed by William French:

He is not a reporter in the conventional sense ... we learn almost as much about him as about the events he is reporting, but this is no bad thing; he's one of the most interesting characters around, and it's possible to hear, echoing in him, all the anguish, violence and dilemma of contemporary American society.

The Prisoner of Sex (1971), reviewed by Adrienne Clarkson:

Mailer says he understands the ways in which women are now seeking to be subjects of their own bodies, yet spends pages dwelling on a bizarre theory about the womb seeking to impregnate itself and, Amazon-like, repelling inferior sperm that have no qualifications to storm the fortress.

Marilyn (1973), reviewer's name unavailable:

Mailer as voyeur is rather a comic figure. He reports Marilyn saying, the morning after she slept with Marlon Brando, "I don't know if I do it the right way." Which of us does know, says Mailer, gallantly coming to her defence.

Pieces and Pontifications (1982), reviewed by Norman Snider:

As he approaches his sixties, Mailer increasingly takes on a kind of Socratic or oracular guise. This is evident in his pronouncements upon, among other things, the aesthetics of graffiti, television, Watergate and the CIA, narcissism, Marlon Brando ... marriage, journalism and the novel, and his old obsession, Ernest Hemingway.

Ancient Evenings (1983), reviewed by Clark Blaise:

There is no way of summarizing this book without compounding its incoherence. I should add immediately that this is not necessarily a negative criticism; the book is vast and audacious, silly and earnest, brave and dopey.

Harlot's Ghost (1991), reviewed by Don Gillmor:

[In this huge novel about the CIA,]Mailer explores the national schizophrenia with an almost textbook doggedness, wrapping some of this theme around the figure of Kennedy. ... Harlot's Ghost ends, roughly, with Kennedy's death, but the book dies much earlier.

The Time of Our Time (1998), reviewed by B. W. Powe:

There is wildness in these pages. ... It is the supreme rambunctious egotism of one who has the brave conceit that in the battle between meaning and meaninglessness, what each of us says and does will and must matter.

One of the fascinations of this anthology is to see how he is profoundly at odds with his time. I'd call him a modernist lost in the postmodern, consumerist zones of simulation and stimulation. He is a radical I ... running against postures of irony and nihilism.

The Castle in the Forest (2007), reviewed by Randy Boyagoda:

... can be understood as part of Mailer's ongoing quest to make sense of cruddy modern existence within the context of receding virtues and higher-order forces of Good and Evil ...

... can also be understood as another ill-conceived, self-indulgent exercise from an aging writer who's never been shy of taking on Big Names with his particular combination of psychological speculation, eccentric mythology and historical hallucination.

That may be the last word here, but hardly the last word on this important and protean figure.