News of Norman Mailer’s hospitalization broke today; the cantankerous and influential author is suffering from severe respiratory problems following a collapsed lung. His children have been keeping a bedside vigil in the critical-care unit of Mt. Sinai Hospital, where Mailer is reportedly still in fighting spirits, thumb-wrestling and cracking jokes. (The Post has more, while New York Magazine looks at the illness in the context of his recent ruminations on spirituality in a new book, On God.)
The Charlie Rose video below contains a partial clip from his notorious appearance on The Dick Cavett Show in 1971; fast forward 29 minutes in to see a younger, wilder Mailer filled to the brim with piss and vinegar as he tears into Gore Vidal on air – after head-butting him in the green room! Vidal had savaged Mailer’s book Prisoner of Sex in The New York Review of Books, comparing him to Charles Manson, insisting Mailer’s thoughts on sex “read like three days of menstrual flow”, and bringing up the time Mailer stabbed his wife. For that, Mailer called him out as a "liar and a hypocrite", then defiantly moved his chair away from his intellectual inferiors (who included journalist Janet Flanner). At this point Cavett really gets pissed.