We lost a great American character and truly unique individual today. If the cowboy persona of John Wayne could be a writer, it'd be wrapped up in Norman Mailer. Married six times while fathering eight children he was scrappy, outspoken and one of the few American writers who looked more at home at a union hall then a desk. The SF Chronicle has a great writeup of this uniquely brilliant story-teller and writer.
Mailer once stabbed his wife with a pen-knife at a booze-filled party but no charges were ever filed. He loved boxing and bull-riding be it in a bar or in the ring. He sat with Kerouac and Ginsberg but also tore a page out of Hemingway's book assuming the classic American alpha-male characteristics being a rough-and-tumble, no stranger to the party scene fella.
I've pulled together some of my favorite Mailer quotes for your enjoyment too:
"America is a hurricane, and the only people who do not hear the sound are those fortunate if incredibly stupid and smug White Protestants who live in the center, in the serene eye of the big wind. "
"Giving a camera to Diane Arbus is like putting a live grenade in the hands of a child. "
"I don't think life is absurd. I think we are all here for a huge purpose. I think we shrink from the immensity of the purpose we are here for."
"The final purpose of art is to intensify, even, if necessary, to exacerbate, the moral consciousness of people."
"Culture's worth huge, huge risks. Without culture we're all totalitarian beasts."