Norman Mailer 'great writer at times'

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The first authorised biography of the American writer Norman Mailer is being released on Thursday, published by his friend and literary executor Mike Lennon.

Mailer gained notoriety during his lifetime for his womanising, drinking, fighting and outspoken political statements, as much as for his writing.

This was despite penning The Naked And The Dead aged 25, hailed as one of the best novels about World War II.

Speaking to the Today programme, Mr Lennon, author of Norman Mailer: A Double Life, said his friend was "remembered because he was a great writer, who also was kind of a wild man at times."

Sarah Churchwell, professor of American literature at the University of East Anglia, believes Mr Mailer was a "great writer at times".

She explained: "At his best, in books like The Executioner's Song, he could be a really fine stylist, when he reined himself in. But the problem was his inability to rein himself in life was sometimes mirrored on the page."

First broadcast on BBC Radio 4's Today programme on Thursday 7 November 2013.

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