The Real White Negro

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Morgan-Mailer_Dissent_022020 above: Summer 1957 cover of Dissent magazine in which Norman Mailer’s essay The White Negro initially appeared

There were many wannabe Lucifers in mid-century America, from Saul Alinsky to Herbert Marcuse, but nobody combined sulfur with venom, hate with dead-on aim, the way Norman Mailer did. East Coast revolutionary to the core, Mailer—who once nearly throttled both Gore Vidal and New Yorker writer Janet Flanner on the set of Dick Cavett’s television show—was a spring-loaded pipe bomb stuffed full of spite, touchiness, and mayhem. Mailer hated everyone and everything (including, one presumes, the wife he stabbed), and he was hell-bent on taking out the whole country, at a minimum, on his maniacal road to perdition.

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