In a sit down with the Big Think, Normal Mailer’s son, John Buffalo Mailer, defended his dad against the charge that the hard-drinking writer had no sense of humor.
“Oh, my God. I mean, if anything his problem was that he didn’t realize that humor will not translate in sound bites and quotes and so oftentimes he would say something you know just off the cuff that was silly and funny and ridiculous and everyone there would laugh like you wouldn’t believe and then it would end up in print the next day and, you know, something crazy like, ‘Norman Mailer said women should be kept in cages.’ You know, things like that. It was just, he loved women so much. I mean probably more than anything in the world he loved women.”
In this Times article “Norman Mailer Vs. Women’s Lib” from 1971–when Mr. Mailer defended his Harper‘s article “The Prisoner of Sex,” which he called “probably the most important single intellectual event of the last four years”–Mr. Mailer seems to understand the funny soundbite pretty well. (The story is worth a read just because it’s a great little snapshot of the city in the 1970s: “Betty Friedan made a statement and Susan Sontag objected to Mailer’s use of the word ‘lady.’”)