The new ATLANTIC (or maybe it's the one before that) has a very interesting article about Norman Mailer written by his widow, Norris Church Mailer. She was his fifth wife, and apparently a saint -- she was willing to mother all nine (nine!) of his children from previous relationships, and to do so quite successfully. She is frank about Mailer's infidelities, as well as how much she loved him, but what most caught my attention was a tiny incident on an airplane.
Norris was reading a novel by Mary Renault. Mailer asked her to leave it at home: "I can't have people see you reading things like that!" My blood boiled.
First off, who was he to tell her what she can read where? But more germane to this blog, Mary Renault was a fantasy writer, and an extremely good one. Her novels (THE KING MUST DIE, THE BULL FROM THE SEA, THE PERSIAN BOY, THE LAST OF THE WINE, etc.) combine a scrupulous rendering of ancient Greece with some magical elements as she retells the stories of Theseus and other mythological Greek heroes. Her prose is evocative, her characters, strong, and her recreation of the ancient world remarkably vivid. But of course she was a fantasy writer and hence beyond Mailer's approval no matter how well she wrote.
I shudder to think what Mailer might have said had his wife been reading Harry Potter.