Random House has reportedly cancelled the publication of a collection of Norman Mailer essays, which would correspond to the 100-year anniversary of his birth next year, because a 'junior staffer' objected to the title of his 1957 essay entitled 'White Negro.'
The project had an editor assigned and the agreement from the Mailer estate, according a best-selling author Michael Wolff.
'With slow-mo hammer-dropping predictability, Norman Mailer's long-time publisher has recently informed the Mailer family that it has canceled plans to publish a collection of his political writings to mark the centennial of his birth in 2023, confirms the film producer Michael Mailer, the author's oldest son,' best-selling author Michael Wolff, who penned the piece, writes.
Mailer biographer J. Michael Lennon was tapped to chose the Mailer works for the collection and editor David Ebershoff had been picked to edit it, Wolff wrote in The Ankler, a new online publication by celebrity editor Janice Min.
Neither Lennon nor Ebershoff responded to requests for comment.
Penguin Random House, as the publisher is now called after a consolidation, did not respond to DailyMail.com's request for comment.
According to Wolff, though, the publisher said that no final contract had been signed for the book and therefore it was not cancelled.
'You hardly have to look hard in Mailer's work to find offenses against contemporary doctrine and respectability,' Wolff writes, calling the author's work 'a psycho-sexual-druggie precursor and model for much of the psycho-sexual-druggie literature that became popular in the 1960s.'
Random House reportedly decided to scrap a new collection of Norman Mailer essays over objections to the 1957 essay 'White Negro'. Mailer, who fought in World War II, would be 100 years old next January. Many of his viewpoints, though influential at the time, would be considered controversial today
EXCLUSIVE: Random House not moving forward with 2023 Norman Mailer book after staffer objects to his "White Negro" essay, from @MichaelWolffNYC @TheAnkler and confirmed by the author¿s son Michael Mailer https://t.co/X261dOuB1Z pic.twitter.com/5WsnGHbB14— Janice Min (@janicemin) January 3, 2022
Mailer's essay, written on the cusp of the beatnik era in the U.S., calls for a rejection of conformity and calls for the 'rebellious imperatives of the self'
The 'white negro' of the essay's title is a 1950s era hipster who lives for immediate gratification, or as he calls it the 'burning consciousness of the present.'
Mailer likens his new philosophy what he sees as the the lifestyle of Black Americans.
He beckons a 'a time of violence, new hysteria, confusion and rebellion will then be likely to replace the time of conformity.'
Writer James Baldwin objected to the essay because he said it traded on stereotypes of black people as overly sexual and violent
The essay drew controversy even at the time from thinkers like writer James Baldwin for trading on stereotypes of black people as operating on base impulses of sex and violence.
Mailer, who was born Jan. 31, 1923 would have been 100 years old next year. He is considered an important literary and left-leaning political voice of post World War II, but he often flirted with controversy and his opinions of masculinity and sexuality are at odds with current thinking.
He served in the Pacific in World War II, but saw little combat. His first book, 'The Naked and the Dead' about his time in the army ranked number 51 on the Modern Library's Top 100 English-language Novels of the 20th Century.
He went on to publish 11 best-selling books, including non-fiction like his account of the anti-war movement 'Armies of the Night,' which one him a Pulitzer Prize and a National Book award.
He considered himself a cultural critic and public intellectual and wrote political essays published in mainstream publications like Esquire.
In 1955, he co-founded the left-leaning Village Voice, a weekly paper which still exists online today.
He also dabbled in filmmaking without much success.
Mailer was known to court controversy and was prone to violence. He once stabbed his wife Adele Morales, pictured here in happier times, with a penknife. She survived.
Mailer was known for getting in fistfights and once headbutted Gore Vidal in the green room on Dick Cavett's talk show. He also stabbed his wife Adele Morales with a penknife after she questioned his masculinity. The wound was nearly fatal, but she survived and he served three years probation for the crime.
In 1969 he ran for mayor of New York City with the slogan, 'No more bullsh**'
Mailer told reporters at the time: 'The difference between me and the other candidates is that I'm no good and I can prove it.'
Random House continues to publish Mailer's work, including 'Why are we in Vietnam, 'Miami and the Siege of Chicago and 'Deer Park.'
Best-selling author Michael Wolff, who broke the story, wrote that the essay was the 'model for much of the psycho-sexual-druggie literature of the 1960s'
In 2013, Random House embarked on a project to republish his works for a younger generation, beginning a collection of selected essays called 'Mind of an Outlaw.'
'Norman was an American original both on the page and in life,' the president of the publishing house Gina Centrello said at the time. 'It's a wonderful opportunity to relaunch these books for a new generation.'
The squashing of the Mailer collection comes after a series of high-profile publishing cancelations over the years, most notably the biography of novelist Philip Roth, but Blake Bailey.
WW Norton decided not to continue publication of the book after Bailey was accused of sexual assault. The book was picked up by Skyhorse Publishing, but is also available in the UK under Penguin Random House.
The cancelation of the Mailer project should be worrisome, Wolff argues, because Penguin Random House has such a huge piece of the publishing pie.
Source : https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-10365451/Random-House-scraps-plan-publish-Mailer-collection-objection-essay-White-Negro.html1359