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This sentence by Thomas Mallon would make Barry N. Malzberg spin in his grave, except that he’s still alive so it would just make him spin in his retirement

Don’t get me wrong, I think Thomas Mallon is great. But what was he thinking when he wrote this:

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I know the New Yorker doesn’t do fact-checking anymore, but still.

The funny thing is, Malzberg has similarities with Mailer both in style and subject matter.

I’m guessing that in his statement Mallon is trying to make the point about the insularity of the literary establishment, but in some way I think that with his narrow focus he’s making his point all too well, at his own expense.


  1. numeric says:

    Malzberg was a genre writer who most readers of the New Yorker probably have not heard of while Mailer was an American man of letters. If insularity means not considering scifi, fantasy, romance, horror, westerns, etc as serious literature then I would agree with your comments about insularity.

    • Andrew says:


      Exactly. Mallon’s statement, “Among American writers of the day, he was alone . . .” is simply false. But, beyond this, in a paragraph where Mallon is lamenting the insularity of the literary establishment, he himself is demonstrating this insularity.

  2. Elin says:

    It reminds me of a review of a book by Dave Barry’s the Times where the reviewer asked why his work wasn’t available in New York … and the thing was his column was syndicated in The Daily News.

  3. J. D. Daniels says:

    You might want to read some of Barry’s thoughts on Mailer and other subjects, including the insularity of the literary establishment (“That was Beyond Apollo to me in 1971: ‘Son of a bitch, I got into Random House!’ Of course, I had to sneak in by way of that tunnel running beneath the outhouse to the mailroom, but I managed”) — a recent exchange at Farrar, Straus and Giroux site appears below.

    Everyone in the game knows Thomas Mallon is a “professional explainer.”

    Did you really write a book with my friend Jennifer Hill? What a small world!

    John D.

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