The News


“Mailer—whose sins and obsessions, dark, comic, revealing, have always been his subject; and whose centennial collection has been uneventfully underway for many months—helps make the curious point that it isn’t, in fact, the work that causes concern but rather the prospect of controversy itself that scares corporate entities away. Trying to avoid more controversy as a byproduct of trying to avoid controversy, no senior editor or executive at Random House was willing to talk about the Mailer project, referring all comment to a publicity department representative who issued a non-denial denial saying that—although agreement had been reached with Mailer’s estate, the book had an editor, David Ebershoff, and Random House had agreed to foot the bill to pay Mailer’s biographer, J. Michael Lennon (Norman Mailer: A Double Life, published to acclaim in 2013), to select the essays—a final contract had not been signed, therefore the book was not technically canceled, it was instead, not acquired. The publisher’s fig-leaf of virtue... With Random House having previously gobbled up most of the publishing industry (including with it many of Mailer’s former publishers), and having most recently agreed to acquire Simon & Schuster, one of its few remaining rivals, there aren’t many options left for a major new publication of the Mailer essays, many of which have helped reshape modern journalism.”

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