Sunday, November 11, 2007

Interesting Mario Puzo Essay

Yesterday morning while looking to see if anyone else had connected Mario Puzo to Norman Mailer - I came across this old book review done by Marion Puzo where Puzo discusses not just Buckley but also Norman Mailer.

Puzo was reviewing William F. Buckley's book The Jeweler's Eye - here are the key paragraphs:
Buckley is condescending even to Norman Mailer, a far more dangerous diversion. He loves Mailer as an artist, he says, because Mailer makes the most beautiful metaphors in the business, "as many as a dozen on a single page worth analyzing." Well, that's pretty good metaphorizing. But Mailer's reaction to that kind of praise will be like that of the chorus girl who received as a birthday present from her millionaire lover a signed photograph of himself.

Readable as it is, "The Jeweler's Eye" could have used some of the Buckley-Mailer debates and TV confrontations. Like a perfectly cast wrestling match, they were a delightful pair. (Buckley, the "English Milord," urbane to the point of snottiness, was the natural villain who drew the jeers of the lumpen-crowd by slyly fouling his opponent behind the referee's back. Mailer, the "Candy Store Kid," was the bulling, honest strongboy who earned the crowd's cheers by fouling his opponent in front of the referee.) Buckley's wit is sneaky, ambiguous, the kind of put-on wit presently labeled as "cool" but which may be chicken (to avoid getting punched in the nose). Mailer is crudely direct, mistakes abuse for wit, and openly invites a punch in the nose. It is, perhaps, no accident that Mailer takes boxing lessons and Buckley rides a motor bike. But that's another medium; perhaps the debates didn't work well in print and so were not used here.
It should be noted that the review was written well before Puzo made a name for himself as the author of The Godfather.

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