It’s tempting to lay down Norman Mailer’s Advertisements for Myself for good when, after several hundred pages of self-regard, he reaches his masturbatory climax by reprinting a letter he once sent to Ernest Hemingway. In the span of nine lines (mysteriously formatted like poetry), Mailer goes from coyly soliciting Hemingway’s opinion of The Deer Park to threatening Papa with his wrath: “if you answer with the kind of crap you use to answer unprofessional writers, sycophants, brown-nosers, etc., then fuck you, and I will never attempt to communicate with you again.” But quitting at this point would mean giving up on a work of fascinating, if at times painful, intellectual narcissism that can now be seen for what it really was: the birth of America’s first reality star. —Graham Rogers

It’s tempting to lay down Norman Mailer’s Advertisements for Myself for good when, after several hundred pages of self-regard, he reaches his masturbatory climax by reprinting a letter he once sent to Ernest Hemingway. In the span of nine lines (mysteriously formatted like poetry), Mailer goes from coyly soliciting Hemingway’s opinion of The Deer Park to threatening Papa with his wrath: “if you answer with the kind of crap you use to answer unprofessional writers, sycophants, brown-nosers, etc., then fuck you, and I will never attempt to communicate with you again.” But quitting at this point would mean giving up on a work of fascinating, if at times painful, intellectual narcissism that can now be seen for what it really was: the birth of America’s first reality star. —Graham Rogers

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