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Norman Mailer Brawled With Bush to the Bitter End
« on: 2007-11-11 00:19:34 »
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[Blunderov] It surprised me to learn that "Ancient Evenings" was disliked by the critics. More than 25 years later I still think about that book sometimes. What I now recall of it was a superbly detailed fashioning of a world view so utterly different from everything I knew that it was almost alien. Almost. That book changed my brain.


Norman Mailer Brawled With Bush to the Bitter End
There is much, much to be said of Norman Mailer, Pulitzer Prize-winning author and world-class rabble-rouser who died Saturday at age 84.

But the pugilistic pensman would perhaps be most pleased to have it known that he went down swinging. The chronicler of our politics and protests in the 1960s with two of the era's definitional books--1968's Armies of the Night and Miami and the Siege of Chicago, did not rest on the laurels--and they were legion--earned for exposing the dark undersides of the presidencies of Lyndon Johnson and Richard Nixon.

He went after George Bush with a fury, and a precision, that was born of his faith that all politicians--including 1969 New York City mayoral candidate Norman Mailer - had to be viewed skeptically. And, when found to be lacking, had to be dealt with using all tools available to a writer who had pocketed two Pulitzers, a National Book Award, a George Polk Award, a Medal for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters from the National Book Foundation and a global prominence rarely accorded the pushers of pens.

Mailer did not hesitate to suggest that Bush and his compatriots were setting up "a pre-fascistic atmosphere in America" and he saw the war in Iraq as an imperialistic endeavor destined--as all such attempts are--to diminish democracy at home.

"Iraq is the excuse for moving in an imperial direction," Mailer wrote on the eve of the conflict. "War with Iraq, as they originally conceived it, would be a quick, dramatic step that would enable them to control the Near East as a powerful base -- not least because of the oil there, as well as the water supplies from the Tigris and Euphrates rivers--to build a world empire."

Mailer recognized in the president's schoolboy militarism the most dangerous of instincts. So it was that, when Bush made his 2003 appearance in flight-suit drag before a sign declaring "Mission Accomplished" as part of the first--though certainly not the last--celebration of the fantasy of "victory" in Iraq, Mailer responded with a critique that remains the most damning assessment of a president who has known more than his share of damnation.

"Democracy, more than any other political system, depends on a modicum of honesty. Ultimately, it is much at the mercy of a leader who has never been embarrassed by himself," Mailer, who as a young Harvard graduate had served in the South Pacific during World War II, wrote of Bush at the close of a brilliant piece for The New York Review of Books. "What is to be said of a man who spent two years in the Air Force of the National Guard (as a way of not having to go to Vietnam) and proceeded--like many another spoiled and wealthy father's son--not to bother to show up for duty in his second year of service? Most of us have episodes in our youth that can cause us shame on reflection. It is a mark of maturation that we do not try to profit from our early lacks and vices but do our best to learn from them. Bush proceeded, however, to turn his declaration of the Iraqi campaign's end into a mighty fashion show. He chose--this overnight clone of Honest Abe--to arrive on the deck of the aircraft carrier Abraham Lincoln on an S-3B Viking jet that came in with a dramatic tail-hook landing. The carrier was easily within helicopter range of San Diego but G.W. would not have been able to show himself in flight regalia, and so would not have been able to demonstrate how well he wore the uniform he had not honored. Jack Kennedy, a war hero, was always in civvies while he was commander in chief. So was General Eisenhower. George W. Bush, who might, if he had been entirely on his own, have made a world-class male model (since he never takes an awkward photograph), proceeded to tote the flight helmet and sport the flight suit. There he was for the photo-op looking like one more great guy among the great guys. Let us hope that our democracy will survive these nonstop foulings of the nest."

Mailer would continue protesting the foulings of the nest, on the streets of New York during the 2004 Republican National Coronation and with a pugilistic pen that pummeled the empire builders and their lesser stooges--asking pointedly in final years that paralleled Bush's "Patriot Acts" and an endless "war on terror": "What does it profit us if we gain extreme security and lose our democracy?"--until it was finally laid to rest on Saturday


Norman Mailer, Novelist -- and Journalist -- Dies at 84

By The Associated Press

Published: November 10, 2007 10:20 AM ET

NEW YORK Norman Mailer, the macho prince of American letters who for decades reigned as the country's literary conscience and provocateur with such books as "The Naked and the Dead" and "The Executioner's Song" died Saturday. He was 84.

Mailer died of acute renal failure at Mount Sinai Hospital, said J. Michael Lennon, who is also the author's biographer.

From his classic debut novel to such masterworks of literary journalism as "The Armies of the Night," the two-time Pulitzer Prize winner always got credit for insight, passion and originality.

Some of his works were highly praised, some panned, but none was pronounced the Great American Novel that seemed to be his life quest from the time he soared to the top as a brash 25-year-old "enfant terrible."

Mailer built and nurtured an image over the years as pugnacious, streetwise and high-living. He drank, fought, smoked pot, married six times and stabbed his second wife, almost fatally, during a drunken party.

He had nine children, made a quixotic bid to become mayor of New York, produced five forgettable films, dabbled in journalism, flew gliders, challenged professional boxers, was banned from a Manhattan YWHA for reciting obscene poetry, feuded publicly with writer Gore Vidal and crusaded against women's lib.

But as Newsweek reviewer Raymond Sokolov said in 1968, "in the end it is the writing that will count."

Mailer, he wrote, possessed "a superb natural style that does not crack under the pressures he puts upon it, a talent for narrative and characters with real blood streams and nervous systems, a great openness and eagerness for experience, a sense of urgency about the need to test thought and character in the crucible of a difficult era."

Norman Mailer was born Jan. 31, 1923 in Long Branch, N.J. His father, Isaac, a South Africa-born accountant, and mother, Fanny, who ran a housekeeping and nursing agency, soon moved to Brooklyn - later described by Mailer as "the most secure Jewish environment in America."

Mailer completed public schools, earned an engineering science degree in 1943 from Harvard, where he decided to become a writer, and was soon drafted into the Army. Sent to the Philippines as an infantryman, he saw enough of Army life and combat to provide a basis for his first book, "The Naked and the Dead," published in 1948 while he was a post-graduate student in Paris on the G.I. Bill.

The book - noteworthy for Mailer's invention of the word "fug" as a substitute for the then-unacceptable four-letter original - was a best-seller, and Mailer returned home to find himself anointed the new Hemingway, Dos Passos and Melville.

Buoyed by instant literary celebrity, Mailer embraced the early 1950s counterculture - defining "hip" in his essay "The White Negro," allying himself with Beat Generation gurus Jack Kerouac and Allen Ginsberg, and writing social and political commentary for the leftist Village Voice, which he helped found. He also churned out two more novels, "Barbary Shore" (1951) and "Deer Park" (1955), neither embraced kindly by readers or critics.

Mailer turned reporter to cover the 1960 Democratic Party convention for Esquire and later claimed, with typical hubris, that his piece, "Superman Comes to the Supermarket," had made the difference in John F. Kennedy's razor-thin margin of victory over Republican Richard M. Nixon.

While Life magazine called his next book, "An American Dream" (1965), "the big comeback of Norman Mailer," the author-journalist was chronicling major events of the day: an anti-war march on Washington, the 1968 political conventions, the Ali-Patterson fight, an Apollo moon shot.

His 1968 account of the peace march on the Pentagon, "The Armies of the Night," won the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Award. He was described as the only person over 40 trusted by the flower generation.

Covering the 1968 Democratic convention in Chicago for Harper's magazine, Mailer was torn between keeping to a tight deadline or joining the anti-war protests that led to a violent police crackdown. "I was in a moral quandary. I didn't know if I was being scared or being professional," he later testified in the trial of the so-called Chicago Seven.

In 1999, "The Armies of the Night" was listed at No. 19 on a New York University survey of 100 examples of the best journalism of the century.

Mailer's personal life was as turbulent as the times. In 1960, at a party at his Brooklyn Heights home, Mailer stabbed his second wife, Adele Morales, with a knife. She declined to press charges, and it was not until 1997 that she revealed, in her own book, how close she had come to dying.

In 1969, Mailer ran for mayor on a "left conservative" platform. He said New York City should become the 51st state, and urged a referendum for "black ghetto dwellers" on whether they should set up their own government.

Mailer had numerous minor run-ins with the law, usually for being drunk or disorderly, but was also jailed briefly during the Pentagon protests. While directing the film "Maidstone" in 1968, the self-described "old club fighter" punched actor Lane Smith, breaking his jaw, and bit actor Rip Torn's ear in another scuffle.

Years later, he championed the work of a convict-writer named Jack Abbott - and was subjected to ridicule and criticism when Abbott, released to a halfway house, promptly stabbed a man to death.

Mailer had views on almost everything.

The '70s: "the decade in which image became preeminent because nothing deeper was going on."

Poetry: A "natural activity ... a poem comes to one," whereas prose required making "an appointment with one's mind to write a few thousand words."

Journalism: irresponsible. "You can't be too certain about what happened."

Technology: "insidious, debilitating and depressing," and nobody in politics had an answer to "its impact on our spiritual well-being."

"He had such a compendious vision of what it meant to be alive. He had serious opinions on everything there was to have an opinion on, and everything he had was so original," said friend William Kennedy, author of "Ironweed."

Mailer's suspicion of technology was so deep that while most writers used typewriters or computers, he wrote with a pen, some 1,500 words a day, in what Newsweek's Sokolov called "an illegible and curving hand." When a stranger asked him on a Brooklyn street if he wrote on a computer, he replied, "No, I never learned that," then added, in a mischievous aside, "but my girl does."

In a 1971 magazine piece about the new women's liberation movement, Mailer equated the dehumanizing effect of technology with what he said was feminists' need to abolish the mystery, romance and "blind, goat-kicking lust" from sex.

Time magazine said the broadside should "earn him a permanent niche in their pantheon of male chauvinist pigs." Mailer later told an interviewer that his being called sexist was "the greatest injustice in American life."

Two years later, he wrote "Marilyn" and was accused of plagiarism by other Marilyn Monroe biographers. One, Maurice Zolotow, called it "one of the literary heists of the century." Mailer shot back, "nobody calls me a plagiarist and gets away with it," adding that if he was going to steal, it would be from Shakespeare or Melville.

"He could do anything he wanted to do - the movie business, writing, theater, politics," author Gay Talese said Saturday. "He never thought the boundaries were restricted. He'd go anywhere and try anything. He was a courageous person, a great person, fully confident, with a great sense of optimism."

In "Advertisements for Myself" (1959), Mailer promised to write the greatest novel yet, but later conceded he had not.

Among other notable works: "Cannibals and Christians" (1966); "Why Are We in Vietnam?" (1967); and "Miami and the Siege of Chicago" (1968), an account of the two political conventions that year.

"The Executioner's Song" (1979), an epic account of the life and death of petty criminal Gary Gilmore, whom Mailer never met, won the 1980 Pulitzer Prize for fiction. "Ancient Evenings" (1983), a novel of ancient Egypt that took 11 years to complete, was critically panned.

"Tough Guys Don't Dance" (1984) became a 1987 film. Some critics found "Harlot's Ghost" (1991), a novel about the CIA, surprisingly sympathetic to the cold warriors, considering Mailer's left-leaning past. In 1997, he came out with "The Gospel According to the Son," a novel told from Jesus Christ's point of view. The following year, he marked his 75th birthday with the epic-length anthology "The Time of Our Time."

Mailer's wives, besides Morales, were Beatrice Silverman; Lady Jeanne Campbell; Beverly Bentley; actress Carol Stevens and painter Norris Church. He had five daughters, three sons and a stepson.

Mailer lived for decades in the Brooklyn Heights townhouse with a view of New York harbor and lower Manhattan from the rooftop "crow's nest," and kept a beachside home in Provincetown, Mass., where he spent increasing time in his later years.

Despite heart surgery, hearing loss and arthritic knees that forced him to walk with canes, Mailer retained his enthusiasm for writing and in early 2007 released "The Castle in the Forest," a novel about Hitler's early years, narrated by an underling of Satan. A book of conversations about the cosmos, "On God: An Uncommon Conversation," came out in the fall.

In 2005, Mailer received a gold medal for lifetime achievement at the National Book Awards, where he deplored what he called the "withering" of general interest in the "serious novel."

Authors like himself, he said more than once, had become anachronisms as people focused on television and young writers aspired to screenwriting or journalism.

When he was young, Mailer said, "fiction was everything. The novel, the big novel, the driving force. We all wanted to be Hemingway ... I don't think the same thing can be said anymore. I don't think my work has inspired any writer, not the way Hemingway inspired me."

"Obviously, he was a great American voice," said a tearful Joan Didion, struggling for words upon learning of Mailer's death.

Lennon said arrangements for a private service and burial for family members and close friends would be announced next week, and a memorial service would be held in New York in the coming months.

The Associated Press

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Re:Norman Mailer Brawled With Bush to the Bitter End
« Reply #1 on: 2007-11-15 09:26:27 »
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[Blunderov] I seem to recall having heard this joke a while back but I don't recall where. It's been around for a while but as the Kevin Stoda, author of the appended piece, astutely observes; the meme seems to gave undergone a contagious mutation recently. He infers that other memes might also find new niches in a changing  environment.

(In the joke the minister is characterised as Episcopalian but he sounds more like a Jesuit to me, especially in view of


"Catholic bishops say voters' souls at stake" : a veiled threat if ever I saw one.)



by Kevin Stoda   

Norman Mailer passed away the other day.  Following his death, DEMOCRACY NOW reran an interview from him in 2004. In that interview, Mailer had warned the Democratic Party and the liberal or progressive establishments of Americans that they have been laughing and making jokes about conservatives, the religious right, and the Republicans for too many years-but to no avail! According to Mailer, the Democrats were continuing to lose ground despite being funny and making jokes at expense of others. 


Despite this sobering critique by Mailer in making his case that we need to seek hearts and minds-not a good laugh-in getting Americans to join the movement, I would have to agree that the particular e-mail joke that my mom sent me today is quite good and pertinent-i.e,. it needs to be repeated and studied by all savvy politicians.  [My mom is a good bellwether of politics and humor in rural or middle America as she was born and raised there and was married to a Republican for years.] The joke, she forwarded,  went as follows: "President George W. Bush was scheduled to visit the Episcopal Church in NW Washington as part of his campaign to restore his 28% approval rating in the polls.

Karl Rove made a visit to the Bishop and said, 'We've been getting a lot of bad publicity because of the President's position on stem cell research, the Iraq war, Hurricane Katrina, and the VA Hospitals. But, we'll make a $500,000 contribution to your church if during your sermon you will say that the President is a saint.

The Bishop thought it over for a few moments and finally said, 'The Church could really use the money - I'll do it.'

The following Sunday, President Bush showed up for the sermon, and the Bishop began:

'I'd like to speak to all of you this morning about our President, George Bush. He is a liar, a cheat, and a low-intelligence weasel. He took the tragedy of September 11 and used it to frighten and manipulate the American people. He lied about weapons of mass destruction and invaded Iraq for oil and money, causing the deaths of tens of thousands and making the United States the most hated nation on earth.

'He appointed cronies to positions of power and influence, leading to widespread death and destruction during Hurricane Katrina. He awarded contracts and tax cuts to his rich friends so that we now have more poverty in this country and a greater gap between rich and poor than we've had since the Depression.

'He has headed the most corrupt, bribe-inducing political party since Teapot Dome Scandal.  The national surplus has turned into a staggering national debt of 7.6 trillion Dollars, gas prices are up 85%, which the people of America cannot afford, and vital research into global warming and stem cells is  stopped cold because he's afraid to lose votes from the religious right.  'He is the worst example of a true Christian I've ever known. But compared to Dick Cheney, George W. Bush is a saint.'

PUCHLINE INDICATES: TIME IS VERY RIPE TO IMPEACH CHENEY In short, if this joke is doing well (in Peoria or) in rural USA at this point in time, the Democratic leadership is absolutely blind not to see that now is the time to impeach the vice-president.  It is unimportant as to whether the impeachment is successful or completed by January 2009! In the 1860s, 1970s and 1990s the America public saw the impeachment process at work in Washington, D.C.  Each and every time, the political party that was in power when the impeachment of the resident of the White House was begun won the subsequent presidential election. This is a no-brainer, America (especially you Democratic Party bigshots)! Wake up, smell the resurrection burning in America's hinterland, and jump in front of the long assemblage of conservatives, liberals and reformists calling for impeachment(s) of  the residents of the WHITE HOUSE, now!  p.s.  Does anyone know the original source of the joke?

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Re:Norman Mailer Brawled With Bush to the Bitter End
« Reply #2 on: 2007-11-16 07:22:17 »
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Google is your friend.

"but compared to" AND "is a saint"

finds its use in many political situations including a comparison of John Kerry to Ted Kennedy.

However the prototype I have (but not handy right now) in an 1890s (IIRC - but definitely prior to 1934) book on jokes for after dinner speeches is similar to this articulation from http://diary.com/2007/11/saint.html

Jokes Posted on Saturday, November 10, 2007 by Author @ 9:35 PM

There were two evil brothers. They were rich and used their money to keep their ways from the public eye. They even attended the same church and looked to be perfect Christians.

Then, their pastor retired and a new one was hired. Not only could he see right through the brothers' deception, but he also spoke well and true, and the church started to swell in numbers. A fund-raising campaign was started to build a new assembly.

All of a sudden, one of the brothers died. The remaining brother sought out the new pastor the day before the funeral and handed him a check for the amount needed to finish paying for the new building.

"I have only one condition," he said. "At his funeral, you must say my brother was a saint." The pastor gave his word and deposited the check.

The next day at the funeral, the pastor did not hold back. "He was an evil man," he said. "He cheated on his wife and abused his family." After going on in this vein for a small time, he concluded with:

"But, compared to his brother, he was a saint."

And having done the digging - Snopes has addressed it already thought they don't have the non-Internet references I do. Refer http://www.snopes.com/politics/humor/saint.asp. Given that according to Snopes, this one was released in 2006 (and I think that internal evidence "7.6 trillion" - which is now over 9 trillion - and "causing the deaths of tens of thousands" when it now comfortably exceeds a million) places it even earlier), I don't particularly think this joke supports anything new about impeachment. In my opinion Bush and Cheney should have been impeached in 2001. And the Supreme Court ought to have been impeached in 1999, when, after Al Gore had won the popular vote and when a recount showed he had won the electoral college, the Supremes decided that while the Republicans had stolen the election that there was no remedy in law for that.

Finally as a point of order, wealth inequity during the great depression was vastly smaller than it is today. The distribution of wealth in the US has never been as skewed as it is today, indeed except for a few examples just prior to popular revolutions, the inequitable wealth distribution here is unique, even exceeding that of Saudi Arabia. What is amazing is that in all other examples of which I wot, the public perceived the brutality necessary to enforce such systems. Here the obscenely wealthy have perfected the maintainance of the delusional veneer that in this "free" country, any suffering is due to the failings and insufficiencies of the mass of people at the bottom of the heap.

Which I suggest might be taken to mean that Americans really do deserve the clowns in the White House, the fascists lined up to take the next election,  and the Democrats who can't even find a viable candidate to stand against them and who having been elected to end the illegal war in Iraq, half a billion dollars later, seem to be its staunchest supporters.
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With or without religion, you would have good people doing good things and evil people doing evil things. But for good people to do evil things, that takes religion. - Steven Weinberg, 1999

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Re:Norman Mailer Brawled With Bush to the Bitter End
« Reply #3 on: 2007-11-19 16:25:49 »
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blunderov, thanks for mentioning norman mailer. he will be missed. ancient evenings was the first of his works that i read. i was captivated. i read it twice! i still dream about it sometimes. i read that it took him 11 years to research the book. it is one of the more trippier egyptian stories ever told!

after that, i tried reading executioner's song and i simply couldnt. castle in the forest was interesting too. the thing about norman mailer is that he tends to step into the darker planes that most of us would seldom glance into...but hey! someone has to do it to write about it! he did consider the concept of 'god' a lot..and 'evil' and 'devil'. his last book was probably a culmination of all the year's mental meanderings.

his non fiction works are something else...i have been meaning to read harlot's ghost and will probably do in the near future. you either loved him or you hated him. no in between..i loved his words and am grateful to have read them. it tickles me that you liked ancient evenings too. now, we are like book siblings or something.....i feel like there is a universe that only those who have read ancient evenings share...its like a special dimension and the only way to gain membership is to read the book.

R.I.P, mailer.

p.s. much later, i picked a book called anubis gates by tim powers. i picked it because it was written in 1983.the same year ancient evenings came out..and also because it was about egypt..altho' the spin on this one is different..it turned out to be not all about egypt at all, but about time travel. i think you'll like this one too..altho' ancient evenings is a completely different league. pick it up!(if you havent read it already, that is)

(amazon link: http://www.amazon.com/Anubis-Gates-Tim-Powers/dp/0441004016 )
« Last Edit: 2007-11-19 16:29:46 by Mermaid » Report to moderator   Logged

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Re:Norman Mailer Brawled With Bush to the Bitter End
« Reply #4 on: 2007-11-23 07:35:52 »
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Quote from: Mermaid on 2007-11-19 16:25:49   

it tickles me that you liked ancient evenings too. now, we are like book siblings or something.....i feel like there is a universe that only those who have read ancient evenings share...its like a special dimension and the only way to gain membership is to read the book.

[Blunderov] I would be delighted to be your book sib! A most happy coincidence - I don't know anyone else who has even read it. I'm now inspired to re-read it but no luck finding a copy yet.

Best Regards.
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Re:Norman Mailer Brawled With Bush to the Bitter End
« Reply #5 on: 2007-11-28 17:04:06 »
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[Blunderov] No doubt about it ; Mailer had a matchless ability to flush out the prudes. And he seemed to enjoy doing it too.

Ross Rosenberg pours ridicule upon Gary Shteyngart's description of a sexual encounter but I think it's rather good. Well, it seems very real to me. In fact I suspect I may have met this woman a while back but it's hard to be certain. Or is it the other way round? Anyway...


Bad, Bad Sex

28 November 2007, 02:35:14 | Ross Rosenberg

The Literary Review’s annual Bad Sex in Fiction Awards took place earlier today and this year’s winner was the recently departed Norman Mailer. The awards were started fourteen years ago with the stated aim of “gently dissuading authors and publishers from including unconvincing, perfunctory, embarrassing or redundant passages of a sexual nature in otherwise sound literary novels.”

The award-winning passage, from one of Mailer’s last novels, The Castle in the Forest, describes the fictional, incestuous lovemaking between Hitler’s parents at the moment of his conception and features this gem of a sentence: “Uncle was now as soft as a coil of excrement.” Natch. But while Mailer was a titan of letters, and poking fun at Hitler a noble task deserving of such talent, I can’t help but be a bit disappointed that my pick didn’t win.

My vote was for Gary Shteyngart’s Absurdistan. Surprisingly, Gary Shteyngart is not Brownlee’s nom de guerre nor is this his memoirs, although one would be forgiven for the mistake when reading passages such as this, which I present here in it’s entirety after the jump. It is lengthy but, most assuredly, worth it:

“You wanna pop me?” she said. This must have been some new-fangled youth term. The verb “to pop.”

“I wanna bust a nut inside you, shorty,” I said. “I wanna make you sweat, boo. Let’s do this thing.”

I’d like to say that she stepped out of her jeans, but in truth it took a while to maneuver two large dimpled buttocks and the accompanying vaginal wedge out of the hard shell of her Miss Sixty denims. We huffed and sweated; I had her hanging off the edge of the bed while I gripped the cuffs of her jeans; I nearly pulled a groin muscle getting her naked; but through it all I stayed hard, a testament to how much I wanted her. She kept her T-shirt on throughout the initial popping, which is just how I like my sex, infused with a little mystery. I slipped my hands beneath the cotton tee and felt the smooth creamery of her breasts while saving the visuals of those brown glossy globes for later. Her vagina was all that, as they say in the urban media - a powerful ethnic muscle scented by bitter melon, the breezes of the local sea, and the sweaty needs of a tiny nation trying to breed itself into a future. Was it especially hairy? Good Lord, yes it was. Mountains of kinkiness black as the night above the Serengeti with paprika shoots at the edges - the pubic hair alone must have clocked in at half a kilo, while providing the inspiration for two discernible trails of hair, one running up to the navel, the other to the base of the spine.

Naturally, considering my size, she got on top of me. But given her impressive overall body mass and natural resilience, I could see a day when we could broach the missionary position, not that there’s anything special in attacking a poor woman that way. After we had fussed with the condom, I reached for her pubes, but she slapped me away. These preliminaries did not interest her. Instead, she just plain mounted me, holding on to my tits for balance, slipping me inside with no effort, both vaginal lips working to usher me into her tightness. I find it clichéd when couples insist that they have “the perfect fit,” but between the busted-up, zigzag, Broadway boogie-woogie of my maligned purple khui and the all-encompassing nature of her Caspian pizda, we reached a third way, as it were.

That is to say, she rode me. It was all very classy and contemporary, like a modern-art survey course at NYU. I wanted to have the slogan I RODE MISHA VAINBERG imprinted on her T-shirt. “Yeah, do me,” she kept saying, after issuing a few grunts so male and assertive they startled me into a brief homosexual fear, a fear compounded by one of her sharp nails digging into my tight rectum. “Do me, daddy,” she said, her eyes closed, her thighs slapping against my upper and lower stomachs, my own tits making wet noises against my frame. “Just like that,” she said, stealing a brief glance at me and then turning her head to the side so that I could lick her ear and plunge into her neck. “Just … like … that.”

“Yeah,” I said, “I’m fucking you, boo,” but the words did not convince me. “I’m busting my nut tonight,” I sang.

“My pussy fills so tight,” she sang back in perfect ghetto English.

“Ouch,” I said. She was crushing my pubic bone, grinding into it. “Ouch,” I repeated. “Baby doll … ouch.”

“Just a minute, pops,” she said. “Just give me a minute. Do me right. Just like that.”

“Move up a little,” I said. “Move up. It hurts. My bone.”

“Just … like … that,” she said.

“My bone hurts,” I said. “I’m losing it.”

“AW,” she shouted. “FUCK ME.” She leaned back. I slipped out. Her thighs trembled before me, and I felt a warm, abundant liquid spreading on my own thighs, not sure which of us had issued it. My bedroom was filled with the smell of asparagus and related greenery. “Aw,” she said again. “Fuck me.”

Pure genius. It was, perhaps, because of its awareness as a piece of horribly written erotica that this passage lost out or maybe Mailer was just getting the “sympathy vote” because he died, regardless of the fact that that particular talent is common to even the most illiterate of persons. Either way it matters little. To the Mailer estate I say congratulations and to Mr. Shteyngart I say good luck next year. I, for one, look forward to it.

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