Readers of The Neal Pollack Anthology of American Literature most likely have a good idea of just how much the late Norman Mailer was a wellspring of jokes about writers. The pugilistic novelist, journalist and failed mayoral candidate did choose to title a collection of his work Advertisements for Myself, after all. Yet as Andrew O’Hagan notes in the LRB, it’s hard not to admire the cojones on a guy who once told a prominent editor he was “still too young and too arrogant to care to write the kind of high-grade horseshit you print in Harper’s Bazaar.”
'The Horse' is what I’d called Roth when he and I shared an office space in the late 60s while he was working on Portnoy’s Complaint and I was working on a similar but superior work, Feldman’s Penis. Roth had earned his nickname because he ate a lot of apples and oats, and also because he loved to saddle up with the shiksas. No one knows a writer as well as his contemporaries. Roth and I are as contemporary as they get.