Norman Mailer Short Stories

This page contains Norman Mailer short stories with a link for online reading, if possible.

The Greatest Thing in the World

Al Groot, a young adult, enters a lunch wagon and tries to get a deal on a doughnut and coffee. He has been walking and hitch-hiking, trying to get to Chicago. When three men come in for a meal, Al tries to get a ride with them.

Read “The Greatest Thing in the World”

The Killer: A Story 

A prisoner is at his parole hearing. He gives the answers he is supposed to give. He thinks of some of his experiences, in and out of jail.

Maybe Next Year

A boy goes walking in a field and along the train tracks when his parents start arguing. The husband is berated for not making enough money and not spending time with the boy. Many people are out of work; the boy is warned to stay away from the filthy and diseased old men in the area.

Read “Maybe Next Year” (scroll back a bit)

The Notebook

A writer and his girlfriend are having an argument. She accuses him of acting superior and of being cold.

The Paper House 

Nicholson and Hayes are army cooks, stationed in Japan after the war. Hayes is divorced and bitter about it. They often visit the geisha house where they each have a regular woman.

Read “The Paper House” (scroll back a bit)

Great in the Hay

Al and Bert are both movie producers and are very similar. Al has an important distinction—he is known for being good in bed. Bert becomes obsessed with this thought.

The Language of Men

After failing at a variety of assignments, Carter becomes an Army cook. He does well and is promoted. After a while, he puts more effort into the meals, improving the taste and quality of his dishes. He doesn’t think the men appreciate what they’re getting.

Read “The Language of Men” (Esquire)

The Last Night: A Story

Earth is contaminated with radiation. Humanity has less than twenty years left, with three quarters of the population only lasting five years. A plan is developed to send up to a million people to Mars.


Soldiers are on the battlefield.

Read “It” (Story is less than 40 words)

The Shortest Novel of Them All

A courtship and marriage.

(about 80 words)

All the stories on this page and several others, including a few novellas, are in this anthology. The nineteen stories were selected by Mailer. They are among his earlier writings, spanning from the 1940’s – 1960’s.