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Mailer dead at 84

"Norman Mailer, who died Saturday in New York at the age of 84, achieved his greatest fame through such novels as "The Naked and the Dead," states the lead in a Market Watch article written by Jon Friedman.

It is a classic obit structure lead. Starting with what the deceased was best known for. After the lead the article takes a left turn and talks of Mailer's lesser known attributes, that in the eyes of Friedman, Mailer was a good journalist.

This article from the A.P. follows the classic structure more closely. The stock patent phrases are missing, like Mailer was born... the article instead chronicles Mailer's literary life. The lead is different, it doesn't actually mention Mailer's death until the second paragraph. I guess the headline is the first indicator, stating, "Norman Mailer, the Writer As Writer" It's not a story about his life, but about his writing life. I think I like this article better that it doesn't so closely follow the structure, I'm not sure how much Mailer's extraneous life outside of writing would be that interesting. The only details included in this story that aren't about writing are those that complement his writer-persona characteristics.

This story from CBS news shoots itself in the foot. Before the story even starts is this disclaimer/lead, "Norman Mailer died yesterday morning at the age of 84. For almost 60 years the life and writings of Mailer provoked and shocked and entertained. Summing up such life is a daunting task, but that's what we've asked of Martha Teichner." Reading that kind of skewed my take on the article it's almost like I expected it to suck, which the story didn't do until the latter portions when it just kind of drops off. This exchange between Mailer and his wife was seemingly haphazardly thrown in,

"Do you flirt with each other?"

"As much as I can," she said.

"Yeah, she's a flirt," Norman said. "

It seems tacked on, the quotes aren't that provocative or remarkable, here is the man who won two pulitzers and this was the best quote they could throw in to mark his legacy.

Anyway it's sad to see another of the great New Journalists perish. Maybe Hunter and Mailer are sipping scotch somewhere right now reveling in their mutual hatred for Nixon.