I followed the A&L Daily link to Roger Kimball’s vigorous dissent to the early eulogies for Norman Mailer and started reading. Several paragraphs in – I’d read a couple thousand words, I’d guess – I started to think, wait, the guy just friggin’ died. How long is this harangue? He must have had had the bulk of it ready long ahead of time, no? And when I read to the bottom I saw that a commenter had the same question: “Dear Mr. Kimball: This is remarkable. Mailer has been dead for less than 12 hours, and you’ve produced a 5300 word bombardment, complete with no fewer than 7 extended quotations and many more shorter one, covering his entire career. Fess up: how much of this had been written before Mailer died, awiting the day when it could be fired, in the face of numerous hosannas?”
Maybe Kimball is pioneering a ghoulish variation on the standard newpaper practice of writing obituaries for the old and famous while they’re still alive: the pre-mortem post-mortem takedown – a cathartic slam prepared ahead of time and impatiently held onto until the terminal day, which the takedown writer cannot really claim he hasn’t been looking foward to.