Wednesday, June 15, 2016
Muhammad Ali Inspires Writers in Life and Death
Norman Mailer, the pugilistic literary lion, opened “The Fight,” his account of Muhammad Ali’s victory in Zaire over George Foreman in 1974, with a ripe evocation of Ali’s magnetism, a sort of carnal electricity, which made him such a compelling subject.
“There is always a shock in seeing him again,” he wrote. “Not live as in television, but standing before you, looking his best. Then the World’s Greatest Athlete is in danger of being our most beautiful man, and the vocabulary of Camp is doomed to appear. Women draw an audible breath. Men look down. They are reminded of their lack of worth. If Ali never opened his mouth to quiver the jellies of public opinion, he would inspire love and hate. For he is the Prince of Heaven — so says the silence around his body when he is luminous.”
Ali captivated writers for more than 50 years, and his death this month at 74 is unlikely to diminish his power as a literary muse. MORE