Although Norman Mailer consistently refers to himself as a novelist, he has written more nonfiction narratives than novels, and the former have received more favorable reviews. A survey of the reviews of his key works from 1948–1998 (including nine novels) in national publications shows that his creative nonfiction, reportage and biographies have generally received greater favorable comment than his fiction (excepting The Naked and the Dead). A careful analysis of Mailer's utterances on the novel, journalism and history as competing, overlapping "modes of perception" demonstrates his conviction that the historical novel is the form best able to deliver social and cultural history in our time. He offers Dos Passos' U.S.A. as the form's finest exemplar, one which engulfs and ingests competing forms, and hints that his own mammoth anthology, The Time of Our Time, be seen as its successor.


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pp. 91-103
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