Campus Buzz

Penn Current
March 3, 2004

A few rounds with a literary heavyweight: “John Barth? Oh, we’d hurt each other. A lot of roundhouse rights back and forth.” So said author Norman Mailer about the American modernist literary giant. The remark—in response to novelist Max Apple’s positing of some hypothetical bouts between Mailer and other famous writers—was one of several testosterone-soaked quips Mailer offered during a private question-and-answer session with on- and off-campus writers at the Kelly Writers House March 1. Mailer freely shared his pugilistic perspective on the writer’s craft with the audience. A few more samples:

On envy: “Writers will never be free of envy. It’s too solitary an occupation.”

On the nature of novel writing: “It’s essentially very competitive writing novels, because it’s your view of existence against someone else’s.”

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