Writer Norman Mailer dies at 84

US: Norman Mailer, the pugnacious two-time Pulitzer Prize winner who was a dominating presence on the US literary scene for …

US:Norman Mailer, the pugnacious two-time Pulitzer Prize winner who was a dominating presence on the US literary scene for more than half a century, died over the weekend of kidney failure, his family said. He was 84.

Known for his biting prose, penchant for controversy and as an antagonist of the feminist movement, Mailer had struggled with his health for months, undergoing lung surgery in October and spending five days in a Boston hospital in September. He died in New York's Mount Sinai hospital.

In more than 40 books and a torrent of essays, Mailer provoked and enraged readers with his strident views on US politics and the wars in Vietnam and Iraq.

His first book, The Naked and the Dead, is considered one of the finest novels about the second World War and made him a celebrity at age 25 when published in 1948.

"From one end of his life to the other he sat in solemn thought and left so much to read, so many pages with ideas that come at you like sparks spitting from a fire," said writer Jimmy Breslin.

In 1969, Mailer ran for New York mayor. "He argued brilliantly for the absolute necessity of the minds of whites and blacks growing by being in the same city school classrooms," said Breslin.

Mailer's works were filled with violence, sexual obsession and views that angered feminists.

He later reconsidered many of his old positions but never surrendered his right to speak his mind.

"I found him to be extremely kind and gentle," said novelist Luanne Rice. "The Norman Mailer that I knew was very different from the angry, contentious man that was famous."

Detractors considered him an intellectual bully and he feuded with authors such as Truman Capote, William Styron and Tom Wolfe. Feminists like Germaine Greer and Kate Millett considered him the quintessential male chauvinist pig.

Some of the feuds even turned physical for the former college boxer, who stabbed one of his six wives at a party and also decked writer Gore Vidal.

"He always had this great voice, even when he was on crutches and canes, he still had that great voice that would get everyone excited," said Dr Thomas Staley, director of the Harry Ransom Center at the University of Texas at Austin, which houses the complete Norman Mailer archives.

Mailer is survived by his wife, Norris Church Mailer, and nine children.