Synopses & Reviews
“Writing is spooky. There is no routine of an office to keep you going, only the blank page each
morning, and you never know where your words are coming from, those divine words.”
In The Spooky Art, Norman Mailer discusses with signature candor the rewards and trials of the writing life, and recommends the tools to navigate it. Addressing the reader in a conversational tone, he draws on the best of more than fifty years of his own criticism, advice, and detailed observations about the writer’s craft. Mailer explores, among other topics, the use of first person versus third person, the pressing need for discipline, the pitfalls of early success, and the dire matter of coping with bad reviews. While The Spooky Art offers a fascinating preview of what can lie in wait for the student and fledgling writer, the book also has a great deal to say to more advanced writers on the contrary demands of plot and character, the demon writer’s block, and the curious ins-and-outs of publishing. Throughout, Mailer ties in examples from his own career, and reflects on the works of his fellow writers, living and dead—Twain, Melville, Faulkner, Hemingway, Updike, Didion, Bellow, Styron, Beckett, and a host of others. In The Spooky Art, Mailer captures the unique untold suffering and exhilaration of the novelist’s daily life and, while plotting a clear path for other writers to follow, maintains reverence for the underlying mystery and power of the art.
"[L]uxurious explorations....This book is a goldmine nothing less than marvelous erudition easily couched in stimulating prose....Chances are that all Mailer fans will be interested in perusing these pages, whether or not they are writers, as will anyone who is convinced a lifelong commitment to writing is for them." Brad Hooper, Booklist
"[T]he whole impresses mightily more so than might A Treasury of Great Literary Comments by Updike, Bellow, or Roth....He is particularly stimulating on questions of craft: style, first person versus third person, real life versus plot life, instinct and influence, stamina....Mailers richest thoughts on writing since the shock of Advertisements for Myself." Kirkus Reviews
"[M]ost of the book has a scattershot feel....Some people will find Mailer's self-assessment grandiose he compares himself to Picasso repeatedly but his confidence should hardly surprise anybody at this point....What he has to say about contemporary literature...leaves the reader wanting more about books and less, much less, about Last Tango in Paris." Publishers Weekly
"Though the collection is uneven and at times cursory, it's also filled with Mailer's energetic spirit and is often provocative, perceptive and entertaining." James Schiff, Book Magazine
"The Spooky Art contains a number of sensible observations....If only there were more of this. A great deal of The Spooky Art has nothing whatever to do with novel writing, serious or otherwise....Like many writers, he is too preoccupied with the work itself to act as a guide to the ins and outs of literary style, even his own." James Campbell, The New York Times Book Review
"The Spooky Art...is a typical Norman Mailer book. By that I mean it is brilliant, irritating, inspiring, frustrating, pompous and egocentric....Mailer writes compellingly about the highs and lows of the writing life....Ostensibly intended for would-be writers, The Spooky Art will captivate everyone who enjoys a good read." Curt Schleier, Minneapolis Star-Tribune
In his latest outing, Mailer takes on a range of subjects with his signature candor, exploring, among other topics, the attractions and limitations of nonfiction, the pressing need for work habits, the pitfalls of early success, and the dire business of coping with bad reviews. But perhaps the most entertaining moments are those in which he takes on his fellow writers, living and dead.
About the Author
Norman Mailer was born in 1923 and published his first book, The Naked and the Dead, in 1948. The Armies of the Night won the National Book Award and the Pulitzer Prize in 1969; Mailer received another Pulitzer in 1980 for The Executioner’s Song. He lives in Provincetown, Massachusetts, and Brooklyn, New York.
Table of Contents
Lit Biz -- Craft -- Psychology -- Philosophy -- Genre --Giants.