Norman Mailer, the macho prince of American letters who for decades reigned as the country's literary conscience and provocateur with such books as "The Naked and the Dead," died early Saturday, his literary executor said. He was 84. Mailer died of acute renal failure at Mount Sinai Hospital, said J. Michael Lennon, who is also the author's official biographer. Some of his works were highly praised, some panned, but none was pronounced the Great American Novel that seemed to be his life quest from the time he soared to the top as a brash 25-year-old "enfant terrible." Norman Mailer was born Jan. 31, 1923 in Long Branch, New Jersey. His father, Isaac, a South African-born accountant, and mother, Fanny, who ran a housekeeping and nursing agency, soon moved to Brooklyn - later described by Mailer as "the most secure Jewish environment in America."