Norman Mailer on Fresh Air

I ran across this 1991 interview of Norman Mailer on Fresh Air. Very quickly into the interview, Mailer touches briefly upon the phenomenon of the unliterate when he imagines the future of the novel in America. In 50 years, he figures, people may read one book a year and regard it as a “special and peculiar” activity. Seventeen years later, we might not be too far away from Mailer’s vision.

Terry Gross then throws Mailer an alley-oop by asking where he thinks he stands among the great American writers of his time. Mailer answers matter-of-factly, “I’m not going to name anyone but there are maybe 3-4 of us who may last and I’m probably one of them.” Ha. Classic Mailer bravado. Yet, again, he may be right.

Returning to the idea of the unliterate, I’ve been struggling to solidify a clear purpose for this blog, which may be a good thing. Given that this endeavor is still in its infancy, I would hope that I’d feel the urge to revise the “About” page continually with each new post.

Here’s a notion. If people really did only read one book a year, shouldn’t that book, at the very least, provide a “special and peculiar” experience, and not just something that everyone else reading?

(picture from AFP/Getty Images)


They’ve Broken Our Code

I ran across a comment in this very old post on Gawker that exposes all of us unliterate-types.

“A helpful tip to get through life is that anyone who quotes Hunter S. Thompson, or claims him as their ‘favourite’ author is full of bullshit. It’s code for unliterate people who have intense pretentions to the literary arts.” – Alfonso X. Alfonse

I’m not one to defend the dregs of reality TV, per se, but here’s my helpful tip to get through life: anyone who proudly uses his first name twice or feels compelled to post faux-intellectual comments in a pompous attempt to serve his own ego (on Gawker of all places!), or use the term “literary arts” obviously has intense pretensions to being an insufferable douche.

Whatever. The interview above and following quote is for said douche:

Fuck England,” I said. “This is Middle America. These people regard what you’re doing to them as a brutal, bilious insult” – The Kentucky Derby is Decadent and Depraved

Philip Roth on NPR’s Fresh Air

I generally do not like interviews. I’ll confess. I usually turn off the TV and go to bed right after the second segment of the Daily Show, before the interview because it is so excruciating to watch.

I love Terry Gross. She is a naturally gifted interviewer. Fresh Air is often playing in the background while I work.

Here is a link to one of my favorite Fresh Air interview subjects: Philip Roth. It is a special show commemorating Roth’s 75th birthday, featuring highlights from previous interviews with Roth, where he shares insights on many of his major literary themes, such as sexuality, the Jewish-American experience, and aging.


Commemorating Philip Roth’s 75th Birthday.